There are many philatelic and postcard glossaries on the web. They have some natural bias to their country of origin and consequently some definitions may be less relevant to collectors in New Zealand or do not cover words in common use here.

In an attempt to overcome some of those issues NZPF has developed a glossary from a number of sources and included many terms appropriate for New Zealand. The Glossary entries are intended to be a brief description. Further investigation on the web searching with the term that seems to fit your need will generally allow you to delve into the full breadth of meaning and the possible identification of alternates.

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There may be some terms that you find missing from the Glossary; you think their meaning should be altered; or, you are trying to find the correct word to use. A simple form is provided at FEEDBACK so you can ask for the words and their definitions to be added to the Glossary; meanings amended; or, seek advice on the term to use.


A Payer (French) “To pay”, inscribed on some Postage Dues.

A Percevoir (French) “To collect”, inscription on some Postage Dues.

A/F or WAF A term often seen on the reverse of a postcard, pencilled in by the dealer. It is short for ‘all faults’ or ‘with all faults’ and indicates some damage to the card (e.g. a creased corner) resulting in a lower than expected price.

Abnormal Term used for certain stamps produced by De La Rue for Great Britain 1862-1880 from plates which were not put into normal production.

ABOVE / NUMBER A handstamp applied to a letter under the Franking Privilege system. Often the Franking Privilege provided for a number of incoming or outgoing letters a day free of charge.  Any further letters received or sent on the day were charged.

Accelerated mail A mail delivery service for which the customer pays a surcharge and receives faster delivery. Examples include “express mail”, “catapult mail”.

Accepted design The artwork approved by a designated postal operator and passed to the printer for production.

Accessories Various products and tools commonly used by the stamp collector, including hinges, mounts, stamp tongs/tweezers, perforation gauges, stock books and magnifiers. Stamp albums, catalogues and philatelic literature can also be regarded as accessories.

Accidental entry When a hardened transfer roller has unintentionally come into contact with the surface of a soft plate with sufficient pressure to transfer part of the design to the plate.

Accountancy mark A handstamp applied to international mail until the UPU, which was formed in 1878, abandoned all bilateral postal treaties. Accountancy marks were shorthand notations for journal entry instructions to record amounts owing to, or amounts owing from other postal authorities.

AD “Advice of delivery”

Additional halfpenny tax A charge made by the British Post Office before 1840 on letters transmitted in Scotland if conveyed at any point of their journey by vehicles having more than two wheels and for certain tolls such as the Menai Bridge.

Adhesive 1) The gum on the back of a stamp or label. Some stamps have been issued with no adhesive. Stamp adhesive may be water-activated gum or pressure-sensitive (self-adhesive).

Adhesive 2) A word referring to a stamp that may be affixed to an article to prepay postal fees, in contrast to a design printed directly on an article, as with postal stationery. An adhesive can also refer to a registration label or other label added to a cover.

Admirals A nickname for three British Commonwealth definitive series, those of Canada, 1912-25; New Zealand, 1926; and, Rhodesia, 1913-19. These stamps depict King George V in naval uniform.

ADMIRALTY / OFFICIAL Stamps overprinted with these words were used by H M Admiralty dockyards and other installations on official mail.

Advanced coated paper A type of paper devised by Harrison & Sons to obviate the problem of ink absorption in the drying process.

Advertisement pane A pane of postage stamps from a booklet in which one or more of the stamp-sized areas bears an advertisement or slogan.

Advertisement stamps Second side-face stamps with advertisements on the back, issued 1893. NZ was the first country in the world to advertise on the back of stamps. See also “Miller, Truebridge & Reich” and “Advertisements on stamps”.

Advertisements on postmarks Commercial advertising by slogan postmarks was not adopted until the late 19th Century.  It was banned in Great Britain until 1989 since then a wide range of goods and services have been advertised.

Advertisements on stamps Stamp advertising first appeared in 1840. In Britain the advertising was carried on pictorial envelopes and wrappers sold by the Post Office, e.g. Mulreadys. Later advertisements were printed on selvedge, interleaving and as part of the stamp panes in stamp booklets.

Advertising labels Adhesive labels used to advertise a commercial company. These have sometimes been printed adjacent to postage stamps (most frequently in booklets) but are more often Cinderellas, Poster stamps or similar.

Advertising Postcard A postcard advertising a product, service, or event. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s postcards were the major means of low cost everyday communication. Advertisers took note of this trend and many fine advertising postcards were produced. These postcards were often distributed with a product to encourage further purchases to complete a ‘set’. Theatres would leave advertising postcards on the seats promoting future performances. Some companies elicited trade orders via a postcard mailing, and so on.

Advertising trade card A card that advertises something but is not a postcard.

Advice of Delivery An equivalent term to ‘advice of receipt’ used in the UK and much of the Commonwealth. Standard abbreviation is AD.

Advice of Receipt or “Acknowledgement of receipt”. By the payment of a special fee, the sender arranges for a card to be returned signed by the addressee acknowledging the delivery of a letter or other postal article.  This is evidence that the letter was received, and these forms (or cards) are frequently seen with legal endorsements. Standard abbreviation is AR and these letters are marked by means of a rubber stamp on the cover and generally appear printed on the return card. See also “Advice of Delivery”.

AED (French) Affranchie a l’étranger jusqu’a destination “postage paid to destination”. See also “PD”.

Aerogram/Aerogramme A thin, lightweight piece of paper on which a letter may be written, it is then folded and by use of pre-gummed flaps becomes an envelope for transit by air. Aerograms are normally carried at less than the airmail letter rate as no enclosures are permitted. When first issued called Air Mail Letter Card then Air Letter card. The term aerogramme was officially endorsed at the 1952 UPU Congress in Brussels and quickly replaced the former term “air letter” (see also). Most aerograms have an imprinted stamp indicating prepayment of postage and are therefore postal stationery. However, some countries (including New Zealand) provide aerograms without imprinted stamp which are termed “formular aerograms” (see also).

Aerophilately A specialized area of collecting concentrating on stamps or covers transported by air.

Aerophilately exhibit An FIP class, an exhibit covering transportation of mail by air which may be shown in several ways: by adhesive stamps, vignettes (with or without face value), labels, cancellations, cachets, transit, route and other explanatory markings, written endorsements, backstamps and relevant signatures.

AFC Automatic face canceller

Affixing machines Privately manufactured machine for applying stamps to envelopes worked by hand or electricity.

AFFRANCHTS (French) Abbreviation for “Affranchissements”. A pre-cancel marking found on French stamps used on Official Mail or on bulk postings of business mail.

Agency 1) An extraterritorial post office maintained at various times by a government within the territory of another government. Examples are the post offices maintained by many European powers in the Turkish Empire until 1923.

Agency 2) An organization, of either public or private enterprise, authorized to publicize or sell new issues of stamps on behalf of a stamp-issuing entity or entities.

AIJP Association Internationale des Journalistes Philatélique (French) International Association of Philatelic Journalists. A group of journalists, writers and other professionals dedicated to philately founded in 1962

Air cards Pre stamped cards devised by Royal Mail in 1993 for airmail use.

Air covers Envelopes bearing cachets or airmail stamps or other evidence of their being carried by aeroplane etc.

Air Hole Flaw Technical term for an uncoloured area, usually circular, which appears accidentally in a coloured portion of a stamp design.

Air letter cards Special stationery on thin sheets of paper were available in Iraq as early as 1933. The sheets were folded to the size of the blue border, and gummed flaps were used to seal the sheet. Douglas Gumbley, director of Posts to the Iraq Government in the 1930s, personally copyrighted the product in February 1933 and it was used first in Iraq and later in the British Mandate of Palestine where Gumbley was in charge of postal matters in the late 1930s. See also “Aerogramme”.

Air letter forms Special letter forms impressed with a sixpenny stamp issued in GB in 1943 to facilitate the writing and handling of air mail letters.

Air letter sheets Introduced early 1941 by the UK, were thin, lightweight forms intended for use by overseas military forces. By August 1941 their use was extended to civilians. The Forces air letter sheets were rated at 3d while the civilian version was imprinted with a 6d stamp. Several other countries adapted the British letter sheet model during the war, while many other countries introduced them after the war. These developed into “aerograms” (see also)

Air mail / air mail stamp Postage stamps expressly providing for prepayment of postage by air mail. The first airmail stamp was issued by Italy in 1917. The sale of distinctive air mail stamps ceased in NZ in 1939.

Air mail / Airmail The carriage of mail by air. The first regular airmail service began in 1870, when mail was carried from Paris-then besieged by German forces-over enemy lines by balloon. Many countries have issued postage stamps, stamped envelopes, postal cards and aerograms specially designated for airmail use. See also “V Mail”.

Air mail letter card see “Aerogramme”

Air / Airmail labels Air labels, or etiquettes, are used by Universal Postal Union member nations to denote airmail carriage. They are generally inscribed Par Avion (French “By Airmail”). The text usually includes the same message in the language of the country of origin. Air labels also are adhesives issued by private organizations for specific, unofficial flights.”

Airbrush A technique which colours have been painted using air compression. Very popular with linen postcards where all undesirable elements have been airbrushed away while enhancing the scenes colours.

Airgraph Special letter form used by GB during WW2 for forces mail overseas which was microfilmed and then reproduced on arrival in the UK. The main office was in Cairo.

airPOST Caro Airline based at Auckland International Airport. It operated night postal services for NZ Post in a joint venture agreement with Airwork Ltd as well as operating ad hoc charter services. From 2007 all flights operated solely by Airwork Ltd on behalf of NZ Post.

Airstream A service of the British Post Office introduced in 1986 for the bulk posting of airmail packets using postage paid impression and a distinctive label.

Airway letter stamps Stamps issued by British European Airways since 1951 and also for a while by Cambrian Airways, for the carriage of letters between airports and for posting on arrival.

Albino Without colour. An un-inked impression of a stamp (usually embossed), overprint or surcharge. Such errors are scarce on stamps. They are found more frequently on postal stationery. See also “Double impression” and Treble impression”.

Album (Corner) Marks On the corners of cards discolouration from the acid leaching out of early 1900s album pages or heavy indentations from weight.

Album A binder and pages designed for the mounting and display of stamps or covers. Many early albums were permanently bound books. Albums come in many sizes, styles and themes. See the Album section in this almanac.

Album weed A fraudulent or forged production.  This includes an imitation of a stamp design; an unauthorised printing from a genuine instrument; a tampering with printing, paper, watermark and means of separation; a simulated overprint, surcharge or cancellation; the chemical removal of a cancellation; or, a deliberate change in the colour. It can also refer to unusual items that resemble postage stamps but were not intended to pay postage, like publicity labels and bogus issues. Album Weeds is the title of a reference book series on forged stamps, written by the Rev R Brisco Earee.

Albumen Print An image printed on paper using egg albumen (the white of an egg) mixed along with whey (derived from curdled milk). The albumen and whey is boiled, filtered, and then mixed with grains of potassium iodide (KI). These prints usually show a brown, yellow, or purple tone. Almost all albumen prints are done on very thin paper and then mounted to cardboard. This process was very common in the last half of the 19th century and was used most on cabinet cards.

Alex Pirie & Co Ltd a firm of paper makers, absorbed in Wiggins, Teape & Alex Pirie Ltd which made some thick un-watermarked paper used for the 1899—1902 pictorials.  They also produced some thick paper with double-lined NZ and star watermark first used in 1900.  For many years, the paper made by this firm was erroneously referred to as “Waterlow” paper because the supplies were received through that firm.

ALF Automatic Letter Facing machine that prepares mail for automatic cancelling.

All Up Service A scheme introduced in 1937 in three stages and ended at the outbreak of WWII.  All letter mail sent from the UK to Commonwealth Countries was sent by air at no additional cost to surface rates of postage.

All-over watermark The paper-maker’s term for a single device or pattern covering the whole sheet of paper. This is commonly referred to by philatelists as “Multiple watermark”.

Alpha and Beta Flaws Terms to describe flaws in lithographed stamps. An Alpha Flaw is one which builds up on the litho stone during the early processes of stamp production. A Beta flaw is one which occurs later because of wear on the stone.  Great Britain’s first line engraved issues had letters printed in the bottom corners. These, over time, came from four sets of hand punches having distinctive type-faces, known as Alphabets I, II, III, IV. See also “Check letters”.

Alternative postal operator Under the NZ Postal Services Act 1998, any business or individual is allowed to carry letters for profit in NZ, so long as that business is registered as a postal operator. Only postal operators designated as NZ’s UPU designated postal operator can issue official New Zealand stamps – that is a stamp with the words, or abbreviation for, ‘New Zealand’. Currently (2017) NZ Post Ltd has sole right to this designation. However, any postal operator can issue other unofficial stamps for the mail they carry. They can use the words ‘New Zealand’ only if a) they appear as part of the postal operator’s name on the stamp; b) the words form part of the postal operator’s registered name; c) the company name appears in full on the stamp; and d) they are in the same typeface and point size as the company name.

Aluminium Cards made out of aluminium

Ambulance bag Plastic bag used since the 1980s by the Post Office to seal and forward damaged or broken packets in transit: similarly a paper envelope used by the Post Office before the advent of plastic.

Ambulant Postmark denoting a Travelling Post Office.

Anaglyph Printing in two colours to give a three-dimensional effect.

Anaglyptography Form of machine engraving which gives an appearance of relief to a print through use of parallel waved lines.

Anchor Printing terminology for a rivet, nail or screw used to fix a printing plate to a wooden or metal mount.

Anchor watermark Watermark used in certain issues of Great Britain and Colonies. An Anchor is shown in many stamp papers.

Anhyphenate Without a hyphen.

Aniline Ink with a coal-tar base. Aniline inks are very sensitive and may dissolve in water or other liquids or chemicals. Used to prevent the erasure of cancellations and reuse of stamps. Aniline inks fluoresce under a UV lamp.

Annulé (French) Cancelled.

Antique postcard Usually refers to a postcard published before 1920.

Anti-Tuberculosis seals Charity label sold to raise funds to combat TB resembles a stamp but is not valid for postage. (See also “Health Stamps”.)

AO See “Autres Objects”.

APO “Army Post Office”

Appliqué postcard A postcard that has some form of cloth, metal or other embellishment attached to it. Feathers, real hair, fabric, dried flowers, powdered glass, and so on. These cards were very popular with everyone but the Post Office who, challenged with the task of delivering them, charged a higher postage rate for doing so.

Apprentice judge A person wishing to be a judge who meets the pre-qualification requirements (including relevant exhibiting skills) but before becoming a judge is required to demonstrate knowledge of the criteria for judging exhibits and the skills in applying it.

Approvals Priced selections of stamps or covers sent to collectors by mail. The collector purchases the items he chooses, returning the rest before a set date to the approval dealer with payment for the purchased items. (See also “Packet”)

Approved Regulations for National Philatelic Exhibitions The rules which apply to any New Zealand National Exhibition held under the Patronage of the New Zealand Philatelic Federation

Après le Depart (French) “Too late”.

AR (French) Avis de Réception “Advice of Receipt” or “Acknowledgement of Receipt”.

Arc roulette Method of separating stamps by a series of minute semi-circular slits varying in distance between ¼ and ½ mm.

Archer perforation Stamps perforated by Henry Archer during his experiments in first applying perforation to postage stamps. (1850 – 1854)

Archival material Any museum quality material manufactured to provide resistance to natural aging.  This will protect postcards and other material for extended periods of time.

Arms Type The name applied to the stamp duty designs which depict the New Zealand Coat-of-Arms.

ARMY OFFICIAL Overprint on low value British stamps used by district and station paymasters’ offices between 1896 and 1904. Victoria and Edwardian stamps overprinted were used for all their correspondence with the exception of letters to the War Office which were free.

Army Post Office APO an official post office established for use by military units abroad. An APO or military post office is set up to distribute mail to and from military personnel. The APO is indicated by numbers during wartime to prevent revealing personnel locations. The locations become generally known after the conflict ends. The organisation responsible for handling soldiers mail. See also “FPO

[Forces Post Office]”.

Army telegraphs Stamps inscribed either Army Telegraphs or Military Telegraphs were issued between 1884 and 1901 for use by British Military Forces on manoeuvres.

Aromatic stamps Stamps that give off an aroma e.g. Switzerland 2001 Chocolate issue which when scratched had an aroma of chocolate.

Arrival postmark Impression placed on mail by receiving office to show name of office and arrival date usually applied on the back of correspondence.

Arrow block Multiple of stamps, usually a block of four, with an attached sheet margin bearing a printed arrow as a guide to dividing the sheet for easier balancing of stock.

Arrow On many sheets of stamps, V-shaped arrow-like markings appear in the selvage, generally serving as guides for cutting the sheets into predetermined units. Some collectors save stamps or blocks displaying these marks.

Art Cards The art card is possibly the most important category in antique postcards. Unlike view or greeting cards, most art cards were special interest cards when printed and in most cases brought a much higher price. Rarity, combined with the skill of the artist of this period, make these cards very popular among collectors today. To better understand this popularity, think of them as postcard-sized original high quality prints.

Art Déco Postcard A postcard depicting the art and design style that emerged in the mid-1910s, reached its peak in the mid-1920s and continued into the early 1930s. Characterised by angular shapes and bold colours.

Art Nouveau Postcard A post card depicting the art and decorative design style fashionable between 1890 and 1910. Characterised by flowing lines and flowery symbols, yet often depicting impressionist more than representational art.

Art paper A superfine paper with a surface of china clay giving it a highly enamelled finish for the printing of fine-screen half-tone blocks.

Artist Signed Any postcard which has an artist’s signature or initials. Postcards where the publisher has identified the artist are also considered to be artist signed. The term does not mean the postcard has been autographed.

Artistamps A class of ‘collectables’ that are NOT postage stamps, bogus stamps or fake stamps. Usually made by artists as a form of self-expression much like any art work. Often they exhibit qualities of postage stamps like a denomination, a country name (often of a non-existing place) and really fall outside the realm of philately.

Artwork Artist’s painting or drawing serving as the basis for stamp design.

As is A term written in auction descriptions, or spoken or written during a retail transaction. It indicates that an item or lot is sold without guarantee or return privilege. Stamps are usually sold “as is” when they are damaged or are possibly not genuine. Stamps etc. sold to collectors at their own risk not guaranteed by the vendor.

ASCAT Association internationale des éditeurs de catalogues de timbres-poste d’albums et de publications philatéliques (French) International Association of Stamp Catalogue, Stamp Album and Philatelic Magazine Publishers. ASCAT’s objectives are stated as “pursuing the professional interests of ASCAT members, particularly relations with postal administrations; the UPU; international philatelic collectors’ organisations; and, organisations of stamp expertisers, journalists, and dealers.

Astrophilately exhibit An FIP class, an astrophilatelic exhibit is built up on historical, technical and scientific aspects related to space research and space programmes.

Astrophilately Space philately as a theme or topic. A study and collection of stamps, covers and documents related to space exploration.

ATF (French) Angleterre Transit Français – England Transit France

Athens prints The first issues of Greece were printed by Meyer in Paris but later printings from November 1861 were made in Athens.

ATM 1) SeeAutomatic Teller Machine”

ATM 2) see “Automatenmarken,” automatic stamps produced individually by a machine. (See also Frama”.)

Au Delà (French) “beyond”. Bilingual handstamp seen on airmail e.g. By Air to Australia/Par Avion en Australie.

Auction A sale of stamps, covers and other philatelic items where prospective purchasers place bids in an attempt to obtain the desired items. The highest bidder for each lot (described item or items) makes the purchase. Auctions are generally divided into mail sales, where bids are accepted by mail, and public sales, where mail bids are combined with live bidding from individuals present at the auction or participating by telephone.

Audit Office franks free postage “Government Department printed frank” (see also). Two franks first authorised for use in 1892.

Authentication Expert opinion that a stamp or other philatelic item is genuine.

Authentication mark A marking, such as initials, placed on the reverse of a stamp examined and certified to be genuine by an expert. Such markings do not detract from the value of the stamps when they represent the endorsement of recognized authorities.

Autogiro mail Mail carried over short but congested routes by the 1930s experimental aircraft.

Automatenmarken (German) “Automatic Mark“ abbreviated ATM.  Variable value stamp  (Germany)

Automatic face canceller Machine that orient letters so they are facing the same way and then applies a cancel. Often uses ultraviolet light to detect phosphor on stamps for positioning the mail.

Automatic franking machine A machine that automatically stamps letters or packages passing through it and computes the total charge. (See also “Meter mark”.)

Automatic letter facing machine Used in letter sorting offices the machine arranges letters so that the stamps on them are all in the same position.

Automatic machine perforation Type of perforation applied to vertical spaces between stamps of New Zealand (1905-6) and USA (1906-12) used for stamp vending machines.

Automatic sorting machine Machine that can scan and archive mail piece images during the sort process for compliance and proof of mailing using multi-line OCR technology (MLOCR)

Automatic stamp vending machine Machines installed at certain Post Offices and elsewhere for the supply of adhesive stamps by paying the money into a slot.

Automatic stamps Any impression applied directly to a postal packet or to a gummed label for fixing to a postal packet dispensed by a coin operated machine.

Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) Machine used by banks for dispensing cash, but has been adapted in USA and Australia to dispense special small sheets of self-adhesive stamp on a liner the approximate size and shape of currency.

Autres Objects (French) Other Articles. A category of International Mail that includes regular printed matter, books and sheet music, matter for the blind, small packets, and publishers’ periodicals.

AV2 UPU Form stating weight of registered and non-registered airmail. See also “OAT”.

Average A stamp with poor margins or perforations cutting into design, also maybe a heavy postmark.

Avis de reception (French) “Advice of receipt”.

Azemar Early type of postmarking machine devised by J G Azemar in 1868 and used experimentally in London between February 1869 and the end of 1872.


Back of Card For most postcard collectors this will mean the address side of the postcard although some philatelic (stamp) collectors consider the back the picture side.

Back of the book (BOB) Refers to a variety of items usually listed in the back of a specialised stamp catalogue.  Include, for example, postage dues, revenues, postal savings stamps, etc.

Background Lines, shading, or solid colour used as a background for an artistic feature such as a head

Backing Part of a printing plate made by pouring molten type metal into the non-printing side of an electro-deposited shell.

Backprint Printing on the reverse of a stamp. Some stamps have numbers, symbols, advertising or information about the stamp subjects printed on the reverse of the stamps. See also “Underprint”.

Backstamp A postmark applied to mail by the receiving post office or by a post office handling the piece while it is in transit. Backstamps are usually on the back of a cover, but they can be on the front. In Britain, a plain diamond shape backstamp is used for statistical purposes.

Bâle Dove Swiss Cantonal stamp issue of 1845.

Ballon Monté (French) “Piloted balloon”. Term used for letters despatched by balloon during the Siege of Paris (1870-1871).

Balloon Post Mail carried by either a manned balloon or a free (unmanned) balloon.

Bande (French) “wrapper”.

Bank mixture A high-quality mixture of stamps. It generally represents clippings from the mail of banks or other businesses with extensive overseas correspondence, and thus includes a relatively high proportion of foreign stamps of high face value. See also “Mission mixture”.

Banknote paper Paper originally used for the production of banknotes, but subsequently used for the printing of stamps e.g. Latvia 1920.

Bantams The nickname of the South African definitive series of 1942-43. Wartime economy measures prompted the manufacture of stamps of small size to conserve paper.

BAOR Abbreviation of British Army of the Rhine.  BAOR is usually followed by a number designating location.

BAPO British Army Post Office

Bar Cancel Cancellation consisting of bars in rectangular, oval or circular patterns.

Bar code A series of vertical full bars and half bars able to be read by electronic equipment. These may appear in a number of situations in the postal environment including: 1) printed on mail representing the postal code to facilitate automated processing by bar code reader equipment or 2) printed on the margins of stamp sheets, on booklet covers or other postal products for accounting purposes in a postal outlet.

Bar code stamps and labels Stamps or labels including a barcode.

Bar cut Groove deliberately cut into the obliterating bars of some stamps to identify the stamper.

Barcode block Any part of a sheet of stamps that contains a printed barcode. Barcode blocks on the bottom and left-hand selvedge may be referred to as ‘A format’ and barcode blocks on the top and right-hand selvedge as ‘B format’.

Barred cancel Obliteration used either to cancel a stamp or to block out a portion of the design.

Bas Relief Postcard Postcard with a heavily raised surface, giving a papier-mâché appearance. The image on the card has heavily raised surfaces giving it a sculptured feel. Usually the images are of Royalty or Edwardian actresses and other ‘familiar’ celebrities of the era. The effect is more pronounced than on embossed cards. It was a patented process.

Basted Mills The mills in Kent of Lepard & Smith.  They made a thin (much thinner than Waterlow), hard, vertical mesh paper with a watermark of double-lines NZ and star. Used in some NZ printings of the Penny Universal.

Bâtonné (French) A wove or laid “bank” letter paper, designed for lightweight foreign correspondence with watermark-like lines deliberately added in the papermaking process and intended as a guide for handwriting.

Beaufort House essays Designs submitted by Charles Whiting of Beaufort House in the British Treasury competition of 1839.

Bed Steel surface in a printing press on which a printing plate is laid.

Beer duty stamps The NZ Beer Duty Act 1880 required beer be levied 3d per gallon.  Beer Duty stamps were affixed over the bung of the beer barrel and thus are frequently found damaged due to the action of removing the bung. Beer duty and its payment in stamps were used in Victoria in late 1880, Queensland in 1885; New South Wales in 1887, South Australia in 1894, and Western Australia in 1898. The Dutch had charged a beer excise since the middle of the fourteenth century, Britain since the seventeenth century and the Americans were using special stamps as early as 1866.

Benzine Colourless liquid made from petroleum used for detecting watermarks in stamps. Not to be confused with Benzene. WARNING for health and safety carefully follow instructions provided with the product.

Beta flaw a term to describe flaws in lithographed stamps.  See “alpha and beta flaws”.

Beta flaw See “Alpha and Beta flaws”

BFPO British Forces Post Office

Bi-coloured Printed in two colours.

Bicycle posts Postal services operated by means of bicycles.

Big Letter A postcard that shows the name of a place in very big letters that do not have pictures inside each letter (see also Large Letter).

Bilingual pair Two unseparated stamps on which the inscriptions are in different languages. For example South African stamps from 1926-49 were printed alternately with English and Afrikaans inscriptions in the same sheet.

Bilingual Stamp A single stamp with inscriptions in two languages. For example, most Canadian stamps include both English and French text.

BIOT British Indian Ocean Territories

Bipartite stamp A stamp made in two parts for easy separation so that one part can be put on the mailed packet with the other acting as a receipt.

Bisect A stamp cut in half officially or privately or perforated into two parts, each half representing half the face value of the original stamp. Officially authorized bisects have often been used during temporary shortages of commonly used denominations. Unauthorized bisects appear on mail from some countries in some periods. Bisects are usually collected on full cover with the stamp tied by a cancel. At times, some countries have permitted trisects or quadrisects. The 1/- FFQ was used bisected at Dunedin to provide a 6d value.

Bishop mark The earliest postmark, a small circular hand-struck mark showing month and day that a letter was received by a post office, but not year. It is the earliest dated postmark known to have been used by any postal administration. Invented by Henry Bishop and introduced c1661 to encourage prompt delivery by letter carriers.

Bit A design or device reproduced in bent wire for attachment to the dandy roll of a paper-making machine to produce a watermark.

BIT Bureau International du Travail (French) “International Labour Office”.

Bite A white spot in an impression due to a small piece of paper adhering during printing.

Bizonals Nickname given to stamps issued from 1945 to 1949 in the Anglo-American zones of Germany.

Black Jack The nickname of the US 2c black Andrew Jackson stamp issued between 1863 and 1875.

Black plates Printing plates used for making the Penny Black Stamp of Great Britain in 1840. See also “Red plates”.

Black prints Proofs of forthcoming postage stamps which were sent by the Austrian Post Office to the press for publicity also printing of GB Line engraved 1d stamps in black ink after printing in red had begun. Also used to describe souvenir sheets of stamp issues with no postal validity.

Blackout cancel Machine postmarks consisting of a black line, circle or crosses used as a wartime security measure.

Blanc French key-type design designed by Joseph Blanc used 1900-1929.

Blanket Endless belt of felt which conveys newly formed paper through the pressing rollers.

Bleaching Term used for a colour usually destroyed by oxidation.

Bleed off Printing term denoting printing which runs off the edge of a page after trimming.

Bleuté (French) Paper tinged with blue. The bluish effect of chemical action between (a) an ingredient of the ink and impurities in the paper (London Prints of the 2d and 1/- FFQs of 1855) or (b) impurities in the paper and prussiate of potash (Potassium ferricyanide K3[Fe(CN)6]) with which the paper was impregnated to provide security against the removal of cancellations (first side faces).  In both cases the blueing was unintentional. Also called “Blued paper”.

Blind perforation Circular depressions instead of cut holes.  Intended perforations that are only lightly impressed by the perforating pins or where the holes have not been punched out due to blunt or missing perforation pins, leaving the paper intact, but cut or with a faint impression. Some stamps that appear to be imperforate really are not if they have blind perforations. Stamps with blind perforations are minor varieties carrying little, if any, price premium over normally perforated copies. It is more usual with rotary wheels than with line or comb heads.

Blitz perforation Various perforations of the New Zealand 1941-45 pictorials and on stamps of some British Colonies as a result of war damage to the factories of De La Rue and the subsequent perforating by Waterlow & Sons and Harrison & Sons.

Block A unit of four or more un-severed stamps, including at least two stamps both vertically and horizontally. Most commonly a block refers to a block of four, or a block of stamps two high and two wide, though blocks often contain more stamps and may be irregularly configured (such as, a block of seven consisting of one row of three stamps and one row of four stamps). See also “Plate block” and “Corner Block”.

Block letter Plain squared printers’ type without ornament or serifs.

Blocked value Name given to one denomination in a set of stamps for which the sale has been restricted.

Blue paper Paper coloured blue throughout and used by Richardson for the local printings of the FFQs.

Blue rag paper Paper containing a quantity of rag as well as wood pulp but which is in fact more grey than blue.

Blued paper The paper of a stamp which has a pale blue tinge as a result of the manufacturing process caused by prussiate of potash (Potassium ferricyanide K3[Fe(CN)6]). Also called “Bleuté”.

Bluenose The nickname for the Canadian 50c issue of 1929, picturing the schooner Bluenose.

Bluish paper Used to print portions of several US issues in 1909; the paper was made with 35 percent rag stock instead of all wood pulp. The colour goes through the paper, showing clearly on back and face.

Blurred print A smudgy and thickened appearance of the lines of a design occurs when a plate is over-inked or when the surfacing becomes damaged.  It can also be found in some examples of double impressions and in kiss prints.

BM (French) Boite Mobile “Movable box”. See also “MB”.

BMA Abbreviation for “British Military Administration” overprint on stamps of North Borneo in 1945.

BNA British North America: Canada, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, etc.

BOARD OF EDUCATION Overprint on British stamps issued between 1902 and 1904 to school inspectors for use on official correspondence.

Boardwalk margin A wide margin.

BOB See “Back of the book”

Bogus A fictitious stamp-like label created for sale to collectors. Bogus issues include labels for non-existent countries, non-existent values appended to regularly issued sets and issues for nations or similar entities without postal systems. A spurious, pretend stamp. See also “Cinderella” and “Fake”.

Bogus stamps Unauthorised stamps.

Boite Mobile (BM) (French) Mobile Box.

Bold type Lettering thicker and darker in colour than usual, often used in overprints.

Bond paper A thin crisp paper with a hard surface.

Booklet A unit of one or more small panes or blocks (known as booklet panes), often interleaved with sheets of commercial advertising, glued, stitched or stapled together between thin card covers to form a convenient unit for mailers to purchase and carry. The first officially issued booklet was produced by Luxembourg in 1895. For some modern booklets of self-adhesive stamps the liner (backing paper) serves as the booklet cover. See also “Exploded”, “Booklet pane” and “Prestige booklet”.
New Zealand’s first two booklets were produced in 1901 using panes of six Penny Universals taken from ordinary sheets, interleaved with waxed paper and stapled between a white card cover.  In 1902 the booklets used panes printed from a specially prepared booklet plate. This practice continued until 1977 when booklets used a folded pane of 10 stamps from normal sheets inserted and glued into a cardboard cover. With some exceptions the use of normal sheet stamps continued until the advent of self-adhesive stamps where the cover’s inside formed the liner for the stamps. See also “Hangsell”, “Foodtown booklet”, “Envelope booklet”.

Booklet pane A small sheet of stamps specially cut to be sold in booklets. (See also “Pane”)

Booklet stamps Stamps intended for release in booklets and differing in some aspect from normal issued stamps.

Bookmark postcard A long and narrow postcard measuring approximately 2½ x 5 – 6 in (90 x 140- 150 mm) that can also be used as a bookmark.

Bordeaux Print A stamp lithographed at Bordeaux in 1870/1 instead of being produced in Paris during the Franco Prussian War.

Bordpost (German) Ship Mail

Boule de Moulins (French) Zinc coated steel sphere containing bundles of letters wrapped in waterproof material which was floated down the River Seine into Paris during the Siege 1870-1871.

Bourse A meeting of stamp collectors and/or dealers, where stamps and covers are sold or exchanged. A bourse usually has no competitive exhibits of stamps or covers. Almost all public stamp exhibitions include a dealer bourse, though many bourses are held without a corresponding exhibition.

BoxLink BoxLink had a next working day delivery target for sending across town or between major towns and cities. To use this service you must have had a NZ Post PO Box or Private Bag. BoxLink could not be used for sending mail to street, rural delivery or overseas addresses.

Boy Scout posts Posts organised by boy scouts in the absence of national post services and at Christmas when Royal Mail has authorised the service for the specific purpose of local delivery of Christmas Cards.

Braille A system of printing by means of raised dots enabling the blind to read by touch.

Braille embossed stamps Stamps bearing Braille e.g. NZ 2006 Year of the Dog – value (45c) embossed in Braille

Briefmarke (German) “stamp”.

Britannia types Early British Colonial design engraved by Perkins Bacon e.g. for British West Indies.

British closed mail Prepaid mail for foreign countries sent through the British postal system 1849.

British gum Commercial name for dextrin, leiocome or starch gum used on early British stamps.

British Postal Agency Agencies in Eastern Arabia and the Gulf e.g. Muscat, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

Broken letters Malformed or broken letters in the inscriptions on stamps caused by damage to the printing plate.

Brunswick Star Postmark used in Edinburgh between 1863 and 1873, so called because it was similar to the star of the Ducal Order of Brunswick.

BT surmounted by a Crown Punch perforated on stamps of GB signifies Board of Trade.

BTB (Believed to be): Abbreviation used by dealers and auction houses to mean as described but cannot be guaranteed by the vendor as such!

Bulk Handling Centre Processing centres where highly automated mail processing in bulk can occur.

Bulk posting / bulk mail Where prepayment has been made to the Post Office for letters and packets posted in bulk and generally pre-sorted into post code.

Bulk rate stamps Special low denomination adhesive stamps for use on bulk posted mail.

Bull’s eye 1) The nickname for the 1843 first issue of Brazil. The similar but smaller issues are called “goat’s eyes”.

Bull’s eye 2) A bull’s-eye cancel refers to a “socked-on-the-nose” postmark with the impression centred directly on the stamp so that the location and date of mailing are shown on the stamp.

Bull’s eye 3) Plate marking in the form of concentric circles with a central dot found on the selvedge of some of the stamps with side-face portraits of Queen Victoria and later issues.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington officially took over production of postage stamps for the United States government in July 1894. Between then and 2005 when the USPS switched to private stamp printers the Bureau printed all US postage stamps.

Bureau prints Stamps produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington.

Burélage (French) A design of fine, intricate lines printed on the face of security paper, either to discourage counterfeiting or to prevent the cleaning and reuse of a stamp. The burelage on some stamps is part of the stamp design.

Burélé (French) Adjective form for burelage, meaning having a fine network of lines. Some stamps of Queensland have a burele band on the back. Also called moir.

Burin The cutting tool of tempered steel, one end of which is a sharp point, used for engraving on a die.

Burr The uneven raised edge of surplus metal resulting from the passage of the engraver’s burin.

Bus parcel stamps Private stamps issued by bus companies to prepay freight charges on packets and parcels conveyed on bus routes.

Business reply service A service provided by a postal operator to enable people to send mail to business firms free of charge. The business takes out a licence and all charges are debited to the licence holder.

By Posts These were the “feeder services” to the six Post Roads in Great Britain in the later part of the 17th & 18th centuries.


CA Watermarks on early British Colonial stamps produced through the Crown Agents (see also).  These appear in three formats – Crown CA, multiple Crown CA and multi-script CA.

Cabinet Card A term to describe a print, usually an albumen print, no more than 6 in (unless it is an imperial cabinet card) mounted on a cardboard back typically measuring 4½ x 6½ (110 x 170 mm). The most common way to display portraits in the late 19th century.

Cachet (French) “stamp” or “seal”. On a cover, the cachet is an added design or text – on a sticker, label or printed directly on the cover – often corresponding to the design of the postage stamp, the mailed journey of the cover, or some type of special event. Cachets appear on modern first-day covers, first-flight covers and special-event covers. For postcards, information opposite the stamp area .

CAL Customer Advertising Label introduced by NZ Post in 2004 as Personalised Advertising Labels.

Calender / calendering To treat paper under pressure to impart a finish which may be smooth, dull, glazed, surfaced or polished. It is carried out using chilled steel rollers at the end of the manufacturing process.

Cameo Term to describe certain stamps bearing embossed effigies which have the appearance of a cameo.

Campaign cover Envelope etc. posted by military or naval personnel on active service in wartime.

Cancel / Cancelled / Cancellation A marking intended to show a stamp has been used and is no longer valid as postage or revenue purposes. Cancels usually include the name of the original mailing location or a nearby sorting facility and the date of mailing. Most cancellations also include a section of lines, bars, text or a design that prints upon the postage stamp to invalidate it. This part of a cancel is called the killer. See also “Date stamp”, “Postmark” and “Postal marking”.  Types of cancellations include commemorative, double, fiscal, geometrical type, lettered, machine, manuscript, numbered, pen mark, relief, roller and slogan (see also)

Cancelled by favour Stamps cancelled in some special manner to oblige the purchaser.

Cancelled on front (COF) A card that has been postmarked and cancelled, usually on a stamp, on the front.

Cancelled to Order 1) Term describing a stamp bearing a postmark applied “by favour” where a postal official would cancel the stamps in sheets or on covers and return them directly to the dealer or collector.

Cancelled to Order 2) Stamps are “cancelled to order” (CTO), usually in full sheets, by many governments. The cancels may be printed on the stamps at the same time that the stamp design is printed. A stamp with a cancel and with full gum is likely a CTO stamp, as CTOs do not see actual postal use. CTO stamps are sold to stamp dealers at large discounts from face value. Most catalogues say whether they price CTO stamps or genuinely used stamps.”

Cantonal stamps Issues of Switzerland’s cantons (states) used before the release of national stamps. The cantonal issues of Basel (1845), Geneva (1843-50) and Zurich (1843-50) are among the classics of philately.

Cape Triangles Common name for the triangular Cape of Good Hope stamps of 1853-64, the first stamps printed in triangular format. The distinctive shape helped illiterate postal clerks distinguish letters originating in the colony from those from other colonies.

Captain’s gratuity An additional fee over and above the postage rate charged to recompense the ship’s Master of a private vessel for carrying mail.

Carbon Tetrachloride (CCl4) A colourless liquid which will make paper transparent without harming the gum of mint stamps and removes oil or grease from other materials. WARNING: Poisoning by inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption is possible and may be fatal.

Carbon tissue Paper-backed sheet of gelatine used in photogravure printing.

Cardboard Fine quality card of varying thickness used for proofing impressions of stamp dies and plates.

Cardiff Penny Nickname for imperforate examples of GB 1d red (Plate 116) of 1864 issued in Cardiff in January 1879.

Caritas (Latin) Charity.

Carnet du Timbre (French) Stamp Booklet.

Carriers’ stamps stamps used by private mail carriers to deliver mail directly to an addressee from the post office. When the postal service was first organized delivery of mail was from one post office to another post office and not directly to the addressee creating the need for private mail carriers. In the United States, this specialized category of stamps existed mainly from 1842 to 1860.

Carte-de-visite (CdV) An albumen print 2¼ x 3½ in (55 x 90 mm) upon a cardboard mount 2½ x 4 in (65 x 100 mm). A carte-de-visite was the size of a visiting card and was traded among friends and visitors. By early 1870s, cartes-de-visite were supplanted by “cabinet cards”, though much later in New Zealand.

Carto philately The collection and study of stamps incorporating maps in their designs.

Carton paper A thick semi card paper.

Cartouche Small oval or circle containing a portrait or heraldic device.

Cartridge paper A strong rough paper occasionally used for stamps (Trinidad 1d blue of 1853).

Cash on Delivery labels Labels issued by Post Offices for packets on which trade charges are to be recovered from the addressee.

Cat. Abbreviation for catalogue.

Catalogue A comprehensive book, books or similar compilation with descriptive information to help identify stamps or other items. Many catalogues include values for the listed items. An auction catalogue is published by the auction firm in advance of a planned sale to notify potential customers of the specific items that will be offered.

Catalogue value The value of a stamp as listed in a given catalogue [such as Scott Catalogues (in USA), Stanley Gibbons (in the UK), Michel (in Germany), etc.] for the most common condition in which the stamp is collected. Some catalogues list stamps at a retail value, though actual dealer prices may vary substantially for reasons of condition, demand or other market factors. Most catalogues have a set minimum value for the most common stamps. Not to be confused with a true value which may be higher or lower based on market conditions and/or the actual condition of the material in question. Also useful in trading when your trading partner is willing to use the same catalogue and edition to form an agreeable trade as they are often found in libraries.

Catapult mail Mail accelerated by a “Ship to Shore” service involving the use of light aircraft catapulted from the decks of ships, when within range of shore.

CC Crown Colonies. A watermark on very early (mostly Victorian) British Colonial stamps

CDS See “Circular date stamp”.

Celluloid A postcard with decorative additions made from celluloid. Celluloid is a highly flammable synthetic made from nitrocellulose and camphor.

Censor mark A manuscript endorsement, rubber stamp impression or printed label applied during wartime to indicate that postal matter has been opened, examined and been passed by service or civilian censors.

Censor tape Adhesive paper used to reseal mail which has been opened for censorship purposes.

Censored mail A cover bearing a manuscript endorsement, handstamp or label indicating that the envelope has been opened and the contents inspected by a censor.

Census marking A diamond shaped mark applied by machine to all mail posted in Britain during the annual mail census.

Centre / Centring The position of a stamp design in relation to its margins or perforations, e.g. ‘well-centred’ or ‘off-centre’. For example, well-centred implies an equal margin between the edges of the stamp and the design. Assuming a stamp is undamaged, centring is generally a very important factor in determining grade and value.

Centre plate The plate which prints the centre or vignette of a bi-coloured stamp.

Centre Term for the central feature of a stamp design. See also “Vignette”.

Centred Term applied to stamps to show the position of the perforations in relation to the printed design.

Certificate (of Expertisation) A certificate of a recognised Expert or Expert Committee in their respective field providing an opinion on the genuineness of a philatelic item. Highly recommended for expensive material and having your own done better insures authenticity.

Certificate of posting Form supplied with the date of posting and retained by the sender as proof that an item has been posted.

Certified mail A service provided by most postal administrations that provides proof of mailing and delivery without indemnity for loss or damage. A receipt is given to the sender and a signature is required from the addressee on delivery.

CFA franc (French) Communauté Financière Africaine “African Financial Community” stands for the West African CFA franc and the Central African CFA franc, two currencies that, even though separate, are in practice interchangeable and which have a fixed exchange rate to the euro. The CFA franc is used in 14 countries, 12 of which are former French colonies. Initially, the French colonies used currencies linked to the French franc but after independence, several countries left the franc zone: Tunisia in 1958, Morocco in 1960, Guinea in 1959, Algeria in 1964, Madagascar and Mauritania in 1973.

Chad Round pieces of paper left after perforation of stamps.

Chain breakers Popular name for the 1919 issues of Yugoslavia.

Chain lines Prominent vertical lines in the watermark found on laid paper at right angles to the fine lines.

Chairman of Jury A person selected by the exhibition organising committee and approved by the body under whose patronage the exhibition is being held (whether at International or National level).  The Chairman is involved in the selection and effective management of members of the jury and the jury secretariat.

Chalk surface

Chalk-surfaced Surface coated with a suspension of various minerals. Applied to stamp paper either to improve the print’s appearance or for security reasons. Papers so treated show a black mark when the surface is rubbed with silver.

Chalky paper A chalk-surfaced paper for printing stamps. Any attempt to remove the cancel on a used chalky-paper stamp will also remove the design. Immersion of such stamps in water will cause the design to lift off. Touching chalky paper with silver will leave a discernible, pencil-like mark and is a means of distinguishing chalky paper.

Chalon Head The name given to the first NZ stamp issue and other early British Colonial stamps, so called because it bore a portrait of Queen Victoria originally painted by the artist A E Chalon.

Chambon perforation The (double) H-shaped comb perforations of NZ definitives printed by De la Rue. Chambon was the manufacturer of all reel-fed printing presses used by the French State Printers at Boulevard Brun in Paris.

Change of address postcards NZ post free postage cards, have been made available since 1956 at post offices to notify others of a change of address. In the period mid-1980s to around 2007 had various pictorial designs but in the periods before and after that the cards were small and not pictorial.

Changeling A stamp whose colour has been changed-intentionally or unintentionally-by contact with a chemical or exposure to light.

Charge marks and labels Handstruck marks and adhesive labels applied to unpaid or underpaid mail to explain the reason for the deficiency and the amount to be paid.

Charity labels (or seals) Labels of no postal validity sold by various charities to raise funds and affixed by their purchasers to letters or cards.

Charity stamp A stamp bearing a premium or surcharge with the additional charge dedicated for a charitable purpose. Usually recognized by the presence of two (often different) values, separated by a “+” sign, on a single stamp. (Also see “Semi-postal”).

Charity surcharge Addition to the postage value of stamp for a charity donation.

Check letters Letters in the lower corners of British Stamps (1840) and on later issues repeated but in reverse order in the upper corners. See also “Alphabet”.

Checklist Complete listings of all the cards within a certain set, subject or publisher. Checklists usually give the title and serial number if any, to identify the cards but also could have descriptions of the picture side.

Cheque stamps Embossed fiscal stamps applied to cheques from 1855 to 1971 to denote stamp duty payable on them; also the nickname for postage stamps of Nyasaland issued in 1898.

Cherifien posts Local service of Morocco organised by the Cherifien Administration in 1911 linking most of the main towns.

Cherry blossoms Name for Japanese Stamps of 1872-1874.

Chief Post Office The principal post office in a postal district.

Chiffre Taxe (French) Postage Due.

China paper A waterleaf paper imported from China.

Chinese Treaty Ports Seaports on the coast of China which were opened to British trade as a result of the Treaty of Nanking in 1842.

Chops Seals or handstamps bearing ideographs or Japanese characters.

Christmas charity post stamps Stamps issued by Scout, Youth and Church groups in Britain since 1981, since when it is permitted for charities to deliver Christmas & New Year Cards between 25 November and 1 January.

Christmas Mail Scheme operated by the British Post Office whereby mail could be posted in advance for delivery on Christmas Day. In use from 1902 to 1904.

Christmas seals Invented by Einar Holboell are labels placed on mail during the Christmas season to raise funds and awareness for charitable programs. They have become particularly associated with lung diseases such as tuberculosis, and with child welfare. Christmas seals are regarded as a form of Cinderella in contrast with Christmas stamps used for postage.

Chrome Postcards (American term) Any card after 1939 with a shiny paper surface. The term is derived from Kodachrome. These are modern glossy cards. Chrome refers to a process used to make the cards. The chrome cards were first published in the 1940’s and continue to be published today.

Chromolithography / Chromo / Chromo Litho A printing method, the first capable of producing multi-colour prints and prevailed on postcards published in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Based on lithography it used print blocks (originally stone slabs) onto which an image was drawn using an oil based medium. There was one block (or stone) for each colour. A chemical process etched away the oil free parts of the block leaving the image part for the given colour raised above the surface. The card would be printed in multiple impressions, each block adding another colour layer. The best examples being developed by German printers. There were no ‘dots’ on the image as the colour was applied in solid blocks. The cards have a rich, deep colour with a shiny surface. Not to be confused with Chrome postcards which refers to glossy Kodachrome postcards.

Cigarette paper Very thin paper meant for rolling cigarettes but used by Latvia for a stamp issue in 1919.

Cigarette tax stamps Revenue stamps indicating a Government tax on cigarettes.

Cinderella A stamp-like label without an official postal value or use. Cinderellas include seals, local post issues and other similar items but are not generally considered to be bogus or fake stamps but fall more into the category of “Artistamps”.

Cinderella exhibit A National (non-FIP) class of exhibit comprised primarily of “Cinderellas” (see also).

Circular date stamp (CDS) A form of postmark produced by a single or combined circle incorporating the date and place of posting.

Circular delivery companies Operating in Great Britain between 1865 and 1869, these private companies undertook local delivery of circulars and printed matter at rates which were lower than the Post office.

Circular delivery stamps Stamps issued by circular delivery companies.

Classic An early issue, often with a connotation of rarity, although classic stamps are not necessarily rare. A particularly scarce recent item may be referred to as a modern classic.

Cleaned plate A cleaned printing surface. Alkaline solutions are used to clean plates to produce stamps with sharper impressions.

Cleaned stamp A stamp from which a postal or fiscal marking or a blemish has been removed.

Cleaning (stamps) Soiled or stained stamps are sometimes cleaned with chemicals or by erasing. The cleaning is usually done to improve the appearance of a stamp. A cleaned stamp can also mean one from which a cancellation has been removed, making a used stamp appear unused.

Cliché A single electrotype, the individual unit consisting of the design of a single stamp, combined with others to make up the complete printing plate (e.g. ½d Newspaper stamp). Individual designs on modern one-piece printing plates are referred to as subjects.

Clipped transfer In lithography the transfers are of paper and may require trimming before laying on the stone. If trimmed too close on one or more sides a clipped transfer will result.

CMF Central Mediterranean Force WW2

Coated paper Any paper with a mineral composition deposited on its surface after manufacture.

COD Cash on Delivery

Coffee house mail For over 150 years coffee houses acted as an important mail exchange centres.

Cogwheel cancel Circular numbered obliteration used by Bavaria 1850-69 so called on account of the ratchet projections surrounding the numerals.

Coil dispenser box In New Zealand, a retail ‘box’ containing a single roll of 100 self-adhesive stamps.

Coil join Pair of coil stamps linked by a narrow strip of marginal paper or tab, the coil being made up of rows from sheets.

Coil leader Strip of paper at the beginning of a coil of stamps that facilitates the loading of a stamp vending machine.

Coil Stamps, gummed and self-adhesive, processed in a long single row and prepared for sale in rolls, often for dispensing from stamp-vending and affixing machines. Some coils have a straight edge on two parallel sides and perforations on the remaining two parallel sides. Some coils are back-printed with sequence or counting numbers. Stamps from a roll of stamps generally collected in pairs or strips. See also “Line pairs”, “Plate number coils”, “Counter coil”, “Coil dispenser box”, Counter machine” and “Stamp vending machine”.

Coil trailer A piece of paper adhering to the edge of the last stamp on a roll.

Coin Daté (French) Date of printing found on corner blocks of stamps from complete sheets.

Coin machine see “Stamp vending machine”.

Co-incidental re-entry When a re-entry is carried out, a co-incidental re-entry occurs when the new impression coincides with the old.  The evidence of a co-incidental re-entry is provided by a general strengthening and thickening of the design. See “re-entry”.

Colis Postaux (French) “Parcel post”. A category of International Mail that includes packages of merchandise or any other articles not required to be mailed at letter postage rate.

Collateral material Any supportive or explanatory material relating to a given stamp or philatelic topic. The material may be either directly postal in nature (post office news releases, rate schedules, souvenir cards, promotional items) or non-postal (maps, photos of scenes appearing on stamps).

College stamps Name for issues made by Oxford and Cambridge colleges for their messenger services in the 1870s and 1880s.

Collotype A photo-mechanically printed image made from a photographic image using gelatine images of photographs. This process produced an extremely fine and delicate grain, and was favoured by publishers who wanted a means of reproduction that emulated the appearance of an actual photograph.

Colonial Treasurer’s Department frank free postage “Government Department printed frank” (see also). Three versions of similar design used 1873-1883, while a fourth different design was introduced 1884.

Colophon A publisher’s emblem or trademark

Colour changeling The original colour has been changed accidentally or deliberately by the action of light, water or chemicals.

Colour guide Usual form is a folding card on which the philatelic colours as used in a stamp catalogue are shown.

Colour of stamps Different denominations of stamps are generally printed in different colours as postal clerks often distinguish the colour more readily than the value. The actual colour of a stamp may vary, and while collectors will pay high prices for rare shades, it may not be easy to tell those apart from variations caused by age, light, chemicals, and other factors. Stamp colours are routinely described by colour name rather with any sort of numerical system like CMYK (refers to the four inks used in some colour printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key [black]); several colour guides showing a selection of colours have been produced.

Colour postmark Postmark applied in a colour other than black.

Colour proof Proofs made in the adopted colour or colours.

Colour Separation Separating the stamp by colours to make negatives and plates for colour printing. The four-colour process requires four separations cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK)

Colour shift Where the design of the stamp has more than one colour and these are applied at different times in the process of printing and the positioning of the colours is incorrect in relation to the intended design.

Colour The characteristics which give rise to the visual sensation of hue and brightness. There are three attributes to colour “hue or tone”; “saturation”; and, “luminosity” (see also).

Colour trials Proof impressions in various colours submitted by the printer to enable the selection of a suitable colour.

Coloured paper Paper which is coloured right through during the manufacturing process.

Coloured roulette Lines of slits between rouletted stamps in colour from printing on the notched rules between the clichés.

Column The vertical line of stamps in a sheet as distinguished from a horizontal row.

Comb perforation In a comb machine the parts are similar to those in a line machine but, in addition to the long row of pins and holes, there are short rows at right angles to the long rows.  A comb machine perforates three sides of each stamp in a row at each operation.  It is usual for the holes in the short rows to be in alignment with holes in the long rows thus producing a characteristic of the corners of stamps to be distinguished from that of a line machine.  Some sets of comb heads used for New Zealand stamps have not conformed to the usual pattern.  These were the 12½ of 1864-66; the 12 x 11½ of 1878-95 and the 13½ x 14 used for some values of the 1935 pictorials. See also “Double comb” and “Triple comb” and compare with “Line perforation”.

Combination cover Cover bearing the stamps of more than one country when separate postal charges are paid for the transport of a cover by each country. Also stamps of the same country cancelled at two different times on the same cover as a souvenir.

Combined stamp Circular date stamp combining an obliterating element with the name and date of posting.

Comic A humorous postcard.

Commatology Specialized collecting of postmarks. This term was invented before World War II to describe postmark collecting. It is rarely used. Usually, collectors refer to postmark collecting or marcophily.

Commemorative A stamp issued to commemorate a person, achievement, event or anniversary and sold for a limited period.  The 1½d pictorial of 1900 and the Penny Universal were associated with events but were on sale for long periods during which they were the only stamps of those values.  Hence, they are classed as “definitive” (see also).

Commemorative cancel / cancellation A postmark either hand struck or applied by machine with special inscription to indicate that it is associated with the commemoration of an event.

Commissioner A person, appointed for a country, whose primary task is to obtain exhibits from exhibitors living in that country and transporting them to and from the exhibition and to be the point of contact between those exhibitors and the exhibition organising committee. At FIP and Continental Federation exhibitions the commissioner’s duties are defined in the “GREX” (see also) and each country is likely to have specific requirements for any Commissioners they appoint. For example, see “Guidelines for New Zealand Commissioners”.

Commissioner-General A person appointed by an exhibition organising committee with the responsibility of providing the contact between the committee and the commissioners appointed by invited countries; for facilitating arrangements for the commissioners within the host country (e.g. transport, accommodation, customs, etc.); and, managing the commissioners’ official duties at the exhibition.

Community Post envelopes Community Post is a community investment programme for NZ Post. Postage-included envelopes and other NZ Post services are donated to not-for-profit organisations for use with projects and activities.

Compartment lines Irregular lines outside the printed area of stamps occurring in letterpress plates where extraneous metal (flashing) has not been removed in the manufacturing and therefore picks up ink during printing.

Composite (1) A series of postcards which when assembled together form a larger picture. More commonly called an “instalment set”.

Composite (2) A photograph with two separate images printed on the same card (photo paper).

Composite die Block of metal bearing part of a stamp design with a space for insertion of a separate piece of metal carrying the remainder.

Composite sheet A sheet of stamps made up of different values, designs or a normal sheet overprinted or surcharged in a similar way enabling a complete set of stamps to be obtained from a single sheet.

Compound envelopes Stationery bearing more than one kind of stamp embossed thereon.

Compound perforations These result when two line or rotary machines are used on the same sheet.  However, in practice the name compound is applied only when the machines used in combination have different gauges.  The most usual combination is for one machine to be used for the horizontal; perforations and the other for the vertical.  It is not uncommon to find NZ stamps with holes of one gauge on three sides and another gauge on one side.  These are sometimes described as “irregular compound perforations”.

Compound plates Printing plates each bearing only part of the design which are cut in such a way that they can be inked separately.

Compulsory postage stamps See “postal tax stamp”.

Compulsory registration A practice used by many postal authorities when coins, jewellery or other valuables are sent through the post.

Computer generated stamps Labels whose design and text are entirely produced by a printer from a computer.

Concentration camp mail Most often seen from the concentration camps established by the Nazi regime in Germany and occupied Europe, are distinguished by special postmarks, stationery and stamps.

Concessionary parcel stamps Stamps issued by Italy since 1953 and used by carriers and freight companies operating local parcel delivery services at rates lower than the Government service.

Concordance A term to describe a state or condition of agreement or harmony. In philately, concordance is most commonly used in maximaphily to describe the desirable relationship between the image on the postcard, the stamp and the postmark.

Condition – postcardsRefers to the physical condition of the postcard. Terms used are Mint, Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.

Condition – philatelic Positive condition factors include fresh full colour, full original gum on unused stamps, and so on. Damage such as creases, tears, thinned paper, short perforation teeth, toning and so on negatively affects condition.

Condominium A Territory over which there is joint rule by two Powers. An example of this is the Anglo – French New Hebrides Condominium whose stamps are inscribed in English and French.

Confetti variety Stamp with a circular uncoloured patch in the design. (Usually only on a random single stamp).

Constant variety A variety which appears in the same position on every sheet.

Consular fee stamps Fiscal issues to pay fees levied for various consular services e.g. passport renewals.

Consular mail Mail sent from Consulates acting as postal agencies often using a distinctive cancellation.

Consular post offices Post Offices maintained in foreign embassies and consulates by various European powers.

Consultant See also “Co-ordinator”.

Continental Federation FIP country members are divided into three Continental Federations which are classed as Associate Members of FIP – Europe (see “Federation of European Philatelic Associations” [FEPA]), Americas (see “Federaciȯn InterAmericana de Filatelica“ [FIAF]) and Asia (see “Federation of Inter-Asia Philately” [FIAP])

Continental size is a postcard size of approximately 4 x 6 in (100 x 150 mm).

Continuous impression machine Post marking machine which made a running pattern of town-date marks interrupted by wavy lines obliterating right across the top of the envelope

Continuous overprint An overall overprint applied without regard to positioning on the individual stamps in a sheet.

Contract mailing A procedure where mail posted in a country is air freighted to another country for sorting and onward despatch.

Control letters Letter inscribed in the sheet margins of some British stamps as an accountancy measure.

Control marks Security endorsement by overprint etc. to curb theft.

Control numbers Numerals engraved in the margins of plates used for the production of stamps in certain countries.

Control overprints Overprints applied to stamps as a precaution in cases of fraud or theft.

Controlled mail A system in which the mailer selects philatelically desirable issues for outgoing mail, arranges for a specific manner of cancellation and secures the stamps’ return by the addressee. In some cases such controlled mail operations may provide rare examples of specific rate fulfilment, or other similar postal use.

Convention States Indian States formerly in convention with the Indian Empire.

Co-ordinator or Consultant. A person appointed by the body under whose patronage the exhibition is being held (whether at International or National level) whose role is to provide guidance and, where required approval, to ensure the exhibition is run in compliance with the overarching rules governing it (in the case of FIP exhibitions the “GREX”, in NZ the “Approved Regulations for National Philatelic Exhibitions”).

Copper plate engraving Alternative name for the intaglio process, so called because copper plates were mainly used.

Copy A single stamp.

Copyright block Block of four or more US stamps with the copyright notice marginal marking of the USPS. The copyright marking was introduced in 1978 and replaced the Mail Early marking.

Cork cancel Corks, often with various fancy designs cut into their surface (see “fancy cancels”) used to obliterate postage stamps.

Corner block Four or more stamps from the corner of a sheet with selvedge attached.

Corner card An imprinted return address, generally in the upper-left corner of an envelope, from a commercial, institutional or private source, similar to business card or letterhead imprints.

Cotton reels The first (1850) circular typeset issues of British Guiana.

Coulles, Somerville, Wilkie 1935 pictorials plates

Counter appliance A machine with compartments to hold rolls of stamps and used by post office counter clerks.  The appliance made it easier and quicker to remove a small number of stamps (often only a single copy) from a roll rather than from a block.

Counter-coil Stamps from normal sheets made up in coil form and sold from post office counter appliances.  A sequential number was printed on the selvedge at the end of each row or column of stamps that enabled the counter clerks to easily determine the number of stamps left in the appliance.

Counterfeit: Any stamp, cancellation or cover created for deception or imitation, intended to be accepted by others as genuine. A counterfeit stamp is designed to deceive postal authorities.

Counterfoil Stamps with counterfoils as distinct from coupons.

Country issues Term used by Royal Mail to describe the distinctive definitives issued in different parts of the UK. See also “Regional Stamps”.

Coupon An attachment to a stamp which conveys additional information.

Courier services Special services operated by various governments for the transmission of official correspondence and armed forces’ mail or mail of commercial enterprises.

Court Card Between 1894 and 1899 British postcards were ‘court sized’. British postal authorities limited by law the size of privately published postcards to be of similar size to those that they published (and smaller than the cards published by other European nations). Court-sized cards were 4½ × 3½ in (115 × 90 mm).

Cover Usually refers to an envelope of postal stationery but also to other forms of outer material in which mail has been enclosed for conveyance by post (excluding bags and hampers) and including a letter sheet (see also) bearing postal markings.

Cowan paper Alex Cowan & Sons Ltd, paper makers supplied various types of paper, both watermarked and un-watermarked for stamps printed at the Government Printing Office.

Cowries Nickname for the first stamps of Uganda (1895).

CP See “Colis Postaux”.

Cracked plate Printing plate showing cracks caused by pressure in manufacture, during operation or general deterioration after long usage. Consequently a term used to describe stamps which show evidence that the plate from which they were printed was cracked.

Crash cover A cover that has been salvaged from the crash of an airplane, train, ship or other vehicle. Such covers often carry a postal marking explaining damage or delay in delivery.

Crazing These are the tiny cracks and fractures you many times see in the emulsion or the top layer of a card.

Crease A noticeable weakening of the paper of a stamp or cover, caused by its being folded or bent at some point. Creases substantially lower a stamp’s value. Creases particularly affect cover values when they extend through the attached stamp or a postal marking. Stamp creases are visible in watermark fluid.

Creased stamps Stamps with a crease which depreciates their value.

Creased transfer Lithographed stamp with an incomplete or distorted design caused by a defect in the transfer paper when the design was applied to the stone.

Credit Line This term refers to the information giving the publisher’s name and location, serial number or any other information which gives details about the card. Process information such as Oilette used by Tuck & Sons’, Series Numbers, Titles and dates may be included in the credit line. This information is usually seen at the left edge, centre or bottom of the address side.

Credit Stamps Revenue stamps issued to denote some monetary or fiscal credit in favour of the purchaser his principal or assignee. See also “tax stamps” and “fee stamps”.

Credit Stamps Revenue stamps issued to denote some monetary or fiscal credit in favour of the purchaser his principal or assignee. See also “tax stamps” and “fee stamps”.

Critique The written report containing the jury’s analysis and assessment of an exhibit against the criteria described in the SREVs for the appropriate exhibit class.

Critique at the frame A verbal critique given by a juror to the exhibitor in front of their exhibit. This enables expansion on the written “critique” (see also) by showing specific examples and suggestions on how the exhibit might be improved.

Cross hatching Crossed lines incised in intaglio to create shaded areas.

Cross Post When the postal service was organised in Great Britain all routes went via London, but to avoid delay direct cross country routes were adopted and were known as Cross Posts.

Crown Agents An entity which acted for Governments of many territories including the production and sale of stamps.

Crown watermark Watermark in the form of a crown.

Crowned circle A type of marking issued by the British Post Office to colonial offices and used to indicate that postal charges had been paid and the country or postal area of origin. The marking was in the form of a broken circle with a crown let in at the top.

CTO Cancelled to order

Culler Facer Canceller A machine used in sorting offices for segregating different classes of mail, facing them the right way up and automatically cancelling the postage stamps.

Currency stamps Postage stamps used as units of currency during shortages of coinage, sometimes deliberately printed on card for this purpose.

Current issues Stamps at present in use.

Current numbers Numbers inserted in the plate margins by some British and early colonial stamps to indicated the order in which the plates were made.

Customer Advertising Label See “CAL”

Customised Smilers sheets See “Smilers Sheets”.

Customs stamps Fiscal issues made to denote payment of customs duty.

Cut cancellation A cancellation that intentionally slices into the stamp paper. Often a wedge-shaped section is cut away. On many issues, such cancellations indicate use of postage stamps as fiscals (revenues) or telegraph stamps rather than as postage. Cut cancellations were used experimentally on early US postage stamps to prevent reuse.

Cut edge variety Denotes a stamp printed from a cliché from which a portion has been accidentally cut away in trimming.

Cut out A non-adhesive stamp cut from postal stationery. The postal regulations permitted un-cancelled copies to be fixed to mail.  A stamp cut from a registered envelope was restricted to a registered article.

Cut square A neatly trimmed rectangular or square section from a stamped envelope that includes the imprinted postage stamp with ample margin. Collectors generally prefer to collect stationery as entire pieces rather than as cut squares. Some older stationery is available only in cut squares.

Cut-to-register The cutting of watermarked paper in order that the design of the watermark falls into the correct position in each sheet of stamps.

Cut-to-shape A nonrectangular stamp or postal stationery imprint cut to the shape of the design, rather than cut square. Cut-to-shape stamps and stationery generally have lower value than those cut square. One of the world’s most valuable stamps, the unique 1856 British Guiana “Penny Magenta”, is a cut-to-shape stamp.

Cyclostyle Apparatus for printing copies of a design which has been occasionally been used for stamp production. A stencil is cut over which an ink roller is passed leaving an impression on the printing paper below.

Cylinder The printing base used in the production of stamps by the rotary photogravure process.

Cylinder block See “plate block”

Cylinder flaw Repetitive blemish in a stamps design caused by a defect in the printing cylinder from which the stamp was printed.

Cylinder marking Includes a figure, letter or combination of the two used to identify a printing cylinder, the printer’s imprint, registration mark, bar or arrow.

Cylinder number Letters/numerals in sheet margins identifying printing cylinders. Normally collected in a ‘Cylinder block’. See ‘Plate number’.

Cylinder plate The part of a printing press to which a plate is attached and which transfers the inked image to either a rubber blanket (as in offset lithography) or directly to the substrate itself (as in letterpress)

Cyrillic alphabet Official alphabet of Russia which has been used with modifications on all Russian issues and has appeared also on stamps of various Slav countries.


Damaged mail Mail damaged in transit including crash and wreck covers.

Dandy roll Hollow wire-surfaced cylinder or roller of a paper making machine covered with wire gauze, which bears upon the mould of a paper-making machine to produce an even textured product.  Watermark bits are attached to the gauze of the roller and produce the watermark in the paper by impression.

Datapost Name used by British Post office for an express service guaranteeing next day delivery anywhere in the United Kingdom.

Date cuts Breaks in the “jubilee lines”, namely the printer’s frame around a pane of stamps.

Date stamp 1) The instrument used to indicate the date of a transaction. It is usual for the name of the office to be included and some include a pictorial design.  It is used to cancel postage and fiscal stamps.

Date stamp 2) The impression made by a date stamp.

Dated corner See Coin Daté.

Dated stamps Stamps which incorporate the year date of production in their design.

Davies John Davies, who had been employed by Perkins, Bacon & Co, was the NZ Government Stamp Printer from February 1862 to 1869.  He supervised the printing of all stamps during that period and designed the ½d Newspaper stamp.

Day of the stamp Day set aside by many issuing authorities for postal and philatelic publicity.

De La Rue

De La Rue Printer Thomas De La Rue & Co Ltd a firm of security printers founded in 1821. In 1855 it started printing postage stamps and in 1860 it began printing banknotes. It was associated with the production of NZ stamps for many years.  Although they have acted as agents for the supply of paper, they were not manufacturers and it is incorrect to relate their name to any paper.

Dead country A former stamp-issuing entity that has ceased issuing its own stamps. Also, the old name of an active stamp-issuing entity that has changed its name, so that the old name will no longer be used on stamps.

Dead letter Letter which cannot be delivered to the addressee because it bears an incorrect or inadequate address.

Dead letter office Where dead letters (see also) are held by the Post Office.

Deckle edge 1) The natural rough edge of paper as it leaves a paper making machine.

Deckle edge 2) A jagged edge designed around the photograph, most popular from the 1930s-1950s.

Découpage French term denoting a means of adjusting the pressure of the printing plate by “cut outs” from parts of the printed design taking the form of a composite layer of sheets of cut outs to obtain lighter or deeper impression from the plate as required.

Deep edge Excessive colour along the edge of a stamp design printed in relief caused by over inking.

Deep etching Additional etching in photoengraving to emphasise lines.

Defaced plates A stamp printing plate whose surface has been deliberately scored to ensure it is not used again.

Deferential cancellation Postmark designed that when stamp was cancelled the effigy of the ruler was not defaced e.g. Sicily 1859

Definitive stamp Postage stamps intended for everyday use over a substantial period of time, distinguished from commemorative stamps (see also).

Delacryl Name invented by De La Rue to signify a printing process made specifically for stamp production.

Delayed mail Mail held up in transmission through the post and thus indicated by means of a label. See also “Interrupted mail”.

Deliberate error Error made by a postal authority to defeat philatelic speculation.

Delivery point A delivery point is a single mailbox or other place at which mail is delivered. It differs from a street address, in that each address may have several delivery points (e.g. an apartment). The delivery point digits are almost never printed on mail in human readable form; instead they are encoded. This makes automated mail sorting possible, including ordering the mail according to how the carrier delivers it (walk sequence).

Deltiology Term for the study of postcards from the Greek word Deltion (small pictures or cards) and Logos (study) term was first used by Randall Rhodes of Ashland, Ohio in 1945.

Demonetized Stamps which, by official decree, are no longer valid for the payment of postal or revenue charges.

Denomination The face value of a stamp, usually indicated by numerals or words printed as part of the design. Some modern stamps produced for rate changes are denominated with a letter. A numerical value is assigned when the letter stamps are issued. See also “Semi-postal”, “Surcharge”.

Departmental stamps Stamps provided for use of government departments on official mail.

Design (1) The artist’s drawing or other form of original to indicate the general features of a proposed stamp.

Design (2) The printed portion of a stamp.

Design type Term describing stamps whose designs differ from one another only in detail.

Designated postal operator The entity (normally the public postal service) defined by the UPU that is responsible for the postal operations of a country. This involves the execution of domestic and international postal services to include the receipt, transportation and delivery of authorized classes of mail, specialized mailing services, the operation of postal facilities and the sale of postage, philatelic materials and mailing supplies. Often referred to as a postal administration or postal authority.

Desulphurisation Process by which sulphur is removed from stamp colours which have been distorted through sulphuretting.

Deutsche Post (German) The Deutsche Post AG, successor to Deutsche Bundepost, is a German postal service and international courier company, the world’s largest. The Express division (DHL), a wholly owned subsidiary, provides services in 220 countries.

Development exhibit An exhibit in a New Zealand (non-FIP) class for novice exhibitors. It includes an 8-page class for first time adult or youth exhibitors and a 1- or 2-frame class.  The objective is to encourage people to ‘have a go’ at exhibiting, increase the number of potential exhibitors and, frequently, the resulting exhibits are of interest to the general public as they are often better understood than the top-ranking exhibits.

Diadem The circlet of gold and jewels forming Queen Victoria’s headdress on many of the earlier stamps of her reign and that of Queen Elizabeth II

Diamond roulette Another name for the French Percé en Losanges (see also)

Diapering Diaper is any of a wide range of decorative patterns used in a variety of works of art, including, in philately for the background of the NZ KGV definitive issue. A white diamond or white cloth is used on the diagonal, hence the diagonal lattice or reticulation in patterning.

Dickinson paper Type of paper containing a continuous coloured thread or threads of cotton manufactured by John Dickinson & Co.

Die A piece of metal [or wood (½d Newspaper stamp)] with a smooth, flat surface on which the whole or portion of a design is engraved in recess or in relief. The piece of metal on which the design of a stamp is first engraved is called the master die (see also).
After hardening reproductions of the die are transferred to a steel roller, when recess or relief steel or recess copper plates are required, or to lead or other soft material for the production of electrotypes or stereotypes. Where a common design is used for several denominations, it is usual to prepare a die in which the value inscription is omitted. An impression is taken on a transfer roller which is then used to lay down subsidiary dies upon which the value inscriptions are engraved. There have been some instances where the original die (1d second side face), transfer roller (1935 2/- pictorial) or subsidiary dies (1935 1d pictorial) have been retouched.

Die Cut Any paper cut by the publisher generally into a shape other than a rectangle, such as the shape of an angel, Santa, or animal.

Die Cut Hold to Light See “Hold to light”.

Die cutting A process for cutting paper or card by means of variously shaped dies under pressure. When used for self-adhesive stamps the edged tool (die) completely penetrates only the stamp paper on all sides of the printed stamp, making the removal of the individual stamps from the liner possible.

Die flaw Any blemish or unusual mark on a die from which printing surfaces have been produced shows on every stamp reproduced from that die.

Die proof Upon completion of a die, trial printings are taken. They are the final checks before the plate is made. See also “Proof”.

Dienst (German) Official.

Dienstpost (German) Official post

Digital printing A process pioneered in Australia where arrangements were made for 2000 Olympic Stamps to be printed in six different locations throughout the country.

Diligencia (Spanish) A type of mail or stage coach.

Diplomatic mail Mail sent by or on behalf of a Diplomat Attaché in the Diplomatic Bag for security reasons. See also “Consular”.

Directional marking A mark applied by a post office to undelivered mail to indicate its ultimate destination. Most frequently the item is returned to the sender with the mark indicating a failed delivery attempt stating the reason for failure. Examples are “No Such Number”, “Address Un-known” and “Moved.”

Discount postage Stamps printed to denote sale at a discount.

Disinfected mail Letters suspected of carrying infection from disease were subject to a cleansing treatment either on board ship or at a lazaret (quarantine station).

Divided back The earliest postcards carried the recipient’s address and postage stamp on one side and the message was written on the ‘picture’ side. Such cards are known as undivided back postcards. In 1902 Great Britain introduced the divided back, a picture on one side and a divided space on the other side for both the recipient’s address and sender’s message. The transition from undivided to divided back took many years as postal authorities around the world adopted similar standards; 1904 in France, 1905 Germany, 1907 in the USA, and so on.  In New Zealand this depended on where the postcard was being sent to. Divided back cards would be sent to Australia from Jan 1905, to Italy and Holland from Dec 1905, to Belgium, Canada, Mexico and Thailand from March 1906, to most countries except USA and Japan from April 1906, and to most countries except Japan from October 1906 and to just about everywhere from Dec 1906. The reason for this is that the receiving country decided if divided back cards would be accepted or not. This helps to date unused postcards. Cards before these dates have undivided backs.

Dividing marks Circular floral ornaments on Perkins, Bacon plates in 1851.

Dockwra mark Triangular handstruck mark denoting the prepayment of postage, devised by William Dockwra for use in his London Penny Post of 1680/82.

Doctor blade flaw A flaw caused by the doctor blade picking up a foreign body which scratches a fine line on the cylinder. Until worked out this can cause a semi constant flaw. In general, appears as a straight coloured or uncoloured line which is not part of the design.

Doctor blade, doctor knife, docteur knife Terms used by different printers, referring to the long thin flexible strip of steel with a finely ground edge (blade) used in photogravure and other intaglio printing processes. The doctor blade removes excess ink from the non-printing surface.

Document Philatelique Official (French) “Official philatelic document” issued by the French post office which includes a copy of the issued stamp cancelled on the day of issue, a mono-colour engraving of the stamp, descriptive text and a large topical engraving with an embossed control seal.

Documentary stamps Fiscal or revenue stamps issued for collecting payment of taxes due on various documents.

Dog team mail Mail carried in the Yukon and Alaska by Dog Teams during the Winter.

Domestic mail Mail posted and delivered within the same country

Domestic stamp A postage stamp whose validity is confined to domestic mail.

Dominical labels Labels attached to Belgian stamps from 1893 – 1914 bearing an instruction “Do not deliver on Sunday”

Doplata (Russian) To Pay

Douane (French) Customs

Double backed An additional layer of backing usually found on heavily embossed postcards which helped the sender in writing their message.

Double cancellation The use of, in a hand instrument, a date stamp and an obliterator conjoined.

Double comb perforation Machines cut the perforation on one row of stamps and on three sides of each stamp of an adjacent row at each operation. See “Comb perforation” and “Triple comb perforation”.

Double Geneva The 1843 Cantonal issue of Geneva (Switzerland) so called because it consisted of a 10c stamp printed in a double design, each half useable as a 5c stamp within the city.

Double impression A stamp on which the design or part of the design has been printed twice. Could also apply to an overprint (see also) or a surcharge (see also). Examples are found in the 1935 pictorials and the issues with portraits of George VI and Elizabeth II of stamps with one inked and one albino impression.  Some of these varieties have the coloured impression blurred.  It is believed these are due to the albino impression preceding the coloured and reducing the absorbability of the paper.

Double letter Duplication of the corner or check letters on early GB line engraved stamps.

Double paper When rolls of paper are used in the printing press, just before one roll is exhausted the end is gummed onto the beginning of the new roll.  Stamps are printed on the overlap, but it is usual practice to mark the sheet clearly with the inscription WASTE and to destroy it.  There have been a few instances where sheets with the join have been issued at post offices.  Stamps printed on the overlap have the paper doubled. For example New Zealand Chalon Head (1858-62). See also “Coil join”, “Joined paper”.

Double perforations (1) When line or rotary machines are used there can be an accidental second operation of the machine when the sheets of stamps have moved only a short distance with the result that there are two rows of perforations close together.  In most instances of NZ stamps, these varieties were due to the incorrect or defective execution of the first operation of the machine.  The same machine or one with the same gauge was used to place a new row or rows in the correct position or positions to rectify the defect.

Double perforations (2) Varieties with double perforations may also be found when comb machines have been employed. In some, there is a clear doubling of the holes on three sides.  There have been instances (1½d and 1/- Peace and 2d Marlborough) where, because of a fault in the stepping of the head, a strike on the selvedge has been mis-placed so that a row of stamps shows doubling of holes cut by the short rows.

Double plate printed Term to describe the method by which a stamp with a design comprising two parts each printed from a separate plate was produced.

Double print There are only two NZ stamps – the 1900 6d pictorial and ½d Peace – which competent authorities consider were printed twice from inked plates.  In both cases one print was clear and the other paler in colour and less distinct.  The 2d blue, 1d brown and 2d vermillion FFQs; the ½d Newspaper; 1906 3d pictorial; and the 1d Universal Royle plates which have been described as double prints are believed to be examples of Kiss prints (see also).

Double sensitive The quality of bright rosine ink used for the first supplied of the 1d George VI.  This ink was unusually sensitive to light, hear, water and chemicals.  Steam changed the colour to brownish-orange.  Shades from pale salmon to deep brown are chemical changelings.

Double separation Sheet or part of a sheet which has been perforated twice.

Double strike An extra, fortuitous impression of the die on the mould used in relief printing for repetition of the design in the building of the printing base. Examples are found in the first NZ postage dues.

Double transfer An extra and fortuitous transfer of the design to the stone in the Lithographic process. See also “Re-Entry”.

Double-lined Associated with the NZ and star watermark in Pirie and Basted Mills paper.

Downey Head British halfpenny and penny stamps of 1911/13 reproducing a three-quarter profile photograph by W and D Downey of King George V.

Downstream access (DSA) is mail that has been collected and distributed by a competitor, but is handed over to the designated postal operator for final processing onto local delivery offices, where they are delivered.

Downstream access Mail from other carriers delivered by Royal Mail

DO-X International registration mark of the German Dornier multi-engine aircraft which was the first to fly the Atlantic from West to East in 1932.

DP “Discount postage”, “Delivery point”

Drop letter A postal packet delivered to an address in the same postal delivery area as the office where it was posted.

Dropped letter Term for a type character plucked from its setting by the inking roller because the type was not held firmly in place on the formé.

Dry print A stamp having a weak appearance due to paper being too dry for the intaglio process.

Dry printing Begun as an experiment in 1953, this type of printing results in a whiter paper, a higher sheen on the surface, a thicker and stiffer feel and designs that stand out more clearly than on more standard “wet” printings.

Dual currency Stamps with values expressed in two currencies.

Duck stamp Popular name for the US Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation stamp, issued for use on hunting licenses annually depicting waterfowl. Similar stamps are issued by various states in the US and are issued in other countries e.g. New Zealand and Canada.

Dues Philatelic term for postage due labels. See also “To Pay labels”.

Dumb cancels Absence of identifying inscription found in various forms on cancellations and in stamp design. See also “Mute cancellation”.

Dummy stamp Officially produced imitation stamp used to train employees or to test automatic stamp-dispensing machines. Dummy stamps are usually blank or carry special inscriptions, blocks or other distinguishing ornamentation. They are not valid for postage, nor are they intended to reach the hands of stamp collectors. Some do by favour of postal employees.

Duplex cancel A two-part postal marking consisting of a canceler and a postmark. The canceler voids the stamp so it cannot be reused. The postmark notes the date and place of mailing.

Duplicate An additional copy of a stamp that one already has in a collection. Beginners often consider stamps to be duplicates that really are not, because they overlook perforation, watermark or colour varieties.

Duty plate The printing plate used to print the value or name and value on stamps. See also “Frame”, “Vignette”, “Head plate”, “Key plate”.

Duty Term given to the function of a stamp as defined by the inscription.

Dyed paper Paper coloured throughout because a dye was added to the pulp during manufacture.


E Mail A system of electronic communication whereby messages produced by computer are transmitted by means of a modem and a server.

Earliest known use (EKU) The cover or piece that documents the earliest date on which a stamp or postal stationery item is known to be used. New discoveries can change an established EKU. The EKU for a classic issue may be after the official issue date. Because of accidental early sales, the EKU for modern stamps is often several days before the official first day.

Early Any card issued before the divided back was introduced.

Easter seal Charity labels issued at Easter, mainly in South Africa.

Economy A cheap postal service for bulk postings and printed matter.

Economy gum Type of gum applied in patterns or blobs to the backs of some stamps issued after WWII.

Economy label Used during war period to be applied to covers that were to be re-used.

Edwardian Postcards dating from the era of King Edward VII who reigned from 1902 until his death in 1910. Often referred to as the golden age of postcards.

EKU Earliest known use

Electric eye perforator A perforating machine which includes a controlling device to ensure that the perforation holes are positioned accurately.

Electro-mechanical engraving Process for producing photogravure cylinders by laser scanning an original photograph to create a digital image recorded on a computer disc which is then used to drive an electronic system for engraving cylinders.

Electronic postmark An electronic time and date stamp on electronic mail that will authenticate a document’s existence at a particular point in time. Compare with “Postmark”

Electronic stamps A system whereby postage could be downloaded from an internet web site and put on envelopes and postcards using a computer printer.

Electrotype impression Also called ‘electros’

Electrotyping Method of copying a design by the electro deposition of copper in a mould.

Electrotyping, electrotype, electro Moulds of some pliable substance such as lead, wax or gutta-percha receive impressions from a die, are given a coating of blacklead and are then suspended in a bath in which there is a solution containing copper sulphate.  An electric current causes electrolysis of the solution resulting in a copper deposit on the mould.  When the deposit is of sufficient thickness it is stripped from the mould and backed with type metal.  The electrotypes thus produced can be either clichés or a composite group up to the size required for a plate.

ELSIE Electronic Letter Sorting Indicator Equipment (SPLSM)

Emblems Name given to watermarked heraldic devices appearing in corners of early stamps of GB.

Embossed Postcards that have designs slightly raised above the card’s surface. Heavily embossed postcards have almost a papier-mâché look that stands greatly above the surface. Often an embossed card will also have other novelty effects applied. Mainly used in greeting type cards.

Embossed stamp Usually a postage stamp created on paper by method of embossing.

Embossing A process used to print a stamp generally on envelopes.  The method that was used in the NZ Government Printing Office involved the engraving of a relief steel die which was then impressed upon an embossing board to produce a mould which took the place of a recess die.  This was then used with the relief steel die.

Embroidered Postcards with embroidery added often forming the image.

Emulsion The photosensitive coating, usually of silver halide grains in a thin gelatin layer, on photographic film, paper, or glass.

En Épargne (French) “in relief” used to describe the type of printing press used in the letterpress system.

Enamel ink A paint used for printing stamps e.g. Tibet 1912-33

Enamelled paper Highly glazed paper coated with a mixture of “zinc white” and glue.

Encased postage stamp A stamp inserted into a small coin-size case with a transparent front or back. Such stamps were circulated as legal coins during periods when coins were scarce.

Endorsement Printing on the back of a stamp.

Engine-turning Intricate geometrical designs engraved on a die or plate by means of a special machine.  The background of the FFQs is an example.  Others are found on the selvedge of some values of the 1935 pictorials and in the gutter between panes of some sheets of the 1/- and 1/6 and of all sheets of the 1/9 Elizabeth II.

Engraver’s proof Trial impressions taken during the course of making the die. See also “Proof”.

Engraving The process of producing a stamp design from a metal or wood plate.

Entire An intact piece of postal stationery (envelope, postcard or wrapper), in contrast to a cut-out of the imprinted stamp. This term is sometimes used in reference to an intact cover or folded letter (“entire letter”).

Entire letter A complete folded letter sheet with the communication on the inside and address on the outside, together with relevant postal markings and adhesive stamps.

Entries Not Provided for Elsewhere exhibit An exhibit in a New Zealand (non-FIP) class for an exhibit which is provided to develop innovation in exhibiting and for exhibits which do not fit into any of the other classes at an exhibition. This option may not be provided at all exhibitions and would not be provided at a specialised exhibition (i.e. one with a limited number of classes). When judged the jury may decide the exhibit meets the requirements of another class and it will be transferred to that class.

Entry Term for a subject on a printing plate or cylinder produced by the Perkins Die and Mill process.

Envelope An envelope is a piece of paper, to each edge of which is attached a flap with the intention that these four flaps should be folded over so as to form a container for a message. Usually three of these flaps are fixed in position with gum, making a pocket, the fourth is left open to be closed after a message has been inserted.

Envelope booklet Not strictly a booklet but rather a specially printed pane of 10 stamps (1988 40c brown kiwi) that was inserted into an envelope with fastPOST stickers. First print included a red “Foodtown” logo on the envelope cover and these were sold through branches of that chain of stores.  A second print, with no logo, was sold from limited postal outlets.

Envelope stamp A stamp embossed on an envelope.

Epaulettes Term for the first issue of Belgium (1849)

Ephemera Any printed or hand written item normally discarded after its intended use such as calendars, postcards, trade cards, tickets, and valentines.

Épreuve De Luxe (French) “De Luxe Proof”. These are ‘prints after the fact’ which are offered to various people within the administration. While certainly rare, since only a few hundred copies are produced they are much less rare than the artists’ proofs which have really been used to prepare the stamp and which may only be a few units.

ERD Earliest recorded date of use.

Erinnophily Study and collection of commemorative labels.

Error A major mistake in the production of a stamp or postal stationery item. Production errors include imperforate or imperforate-between varieties, missing or incorrect colours, and inversion or doubling of part of the design or overprint. Major errors are usually far scarcer than normal varieties of the same stamp and are highly valued by collectors.

Error in design A mistake in design, inscription or production.  The best-known example in the stamps of NZ is the 1898 2½d “Wakatipu” mis-spelt “Wakitipu”.

Errors, freaks and oddities (EFO) See separate listing for ‘Error’, ‘Freak’ and ‘Oddity’. There is at least one international club (Errors, Freaks & Oddities Collectors Club) devoted to collecting these issues. See also “Error”, “Freak”.

Esparto fibres Esparto grass when used in papermaking makes a high quality paper.  The fibres are fairly short in relation to their width and because of the short fibre length, the tensile strength of the paper is less than that of many other papers, but its resistance to shrinkage and stretching is superior.  The paper is dense with excellent inking qualities.

Essay A proposed design, which can range from a rough sketch to a print in colour.  The design of an essay differs, at least in some particulars, from the issued stamp.

Establishment register A large volume with early records of the NZ Post Office and containing particulars of appointments, Offices and, in some cases, details of actual impressions of cancellations, postal markings and seals.

Etching A process of engraving by eating into the metal with an acid or chemical solution.  There have been some instances where part of the design was recessed into a die by etching and then the work completed by hand cutting.  Etching was employed during the production of the plates for the 1932 and 1933 Health stamps.

Etiquette A gummed label manufactured for application to an envelope to designate a specific mail service. Examples include indications of airmail, express and registration.

Europa stamps The “United Europe” theme celebrated annually on stamps of western European nations since 1956. The original Europa stamps were issued by the nations in the European coal and steel association. Today, European nations that are members of the postal and telecommunications association (CEPT) issue Europa stamps.

Exaggeration Postcard A popular theme in America in the years leading up to WW1. Exaggeration postcards typically feature photo manipulated images of enormous agricultural produce or animals.

Examiners’ marks These are applied to postal packets to denote examination by censors in time of war or by customs authorities.

Exchange club A group formed to exchange stamps.

Exelgram Holographic printing on thin plastic, pioneered in Australia.

Exempt ship letter Handstamp applied to letters written by the consignee of goods carried by ship exempting him from the normal ship letter charge.

Exhibition labels Name for labels issued to publicise exhibitions. See also “Poster stamps”.

Expatriated post Postal services provided by, or for, a Government in Exile.  This mainly, but not exclusively, arose during WWII when German occupation saw some Governments operating in the UK.

Experimental postmark A postmark produced during the trials of new types of handstamps or cancelling machine. e.g. skeleton postmark.

Expert committee Groups of specialist philatelists whose function is to express an opinion on the authenticity of stamps or other philatelic item.

Expert Group A panel of experts that is part of the jury at International exhibitions. They examine exhibits for fakes, forgeries and other contravention, including any that are reported by jury teams to contain possible faked or forged material.

Expertisation The examination of a stamp or cover by an acknowledged expert or expert committee to determine if it is genuine. As standard procedure, an expert or expertizing body issues a signed certificate, often with an attached photograph, attesting to the item’s status.

Explanatory labels and marks Devices used by postal authorities to give reasons for surcharging unpaid or underpaid mail or to give reasons for non-delivery.

Exploded A stamp booklet that has been separated into its various components, usually for purposes of display. Panes are removed intact: individual stamps are not separated from the pane.

Express delivery Delivery of an article, on the payment of a special fee, as soon as possible after receipt at the office of destination.  Distinctive 6d stamps were issued from 9 February 1903 and the last issue was withdrawn from sale 30 June 1948. See also “fastPOST”.

Express labels Labels usually printed in bright colours to denote express and special delivery mail.

Express letter stamps Postage stamps denoting the fee payable in respect of accelerated mail subject to special handling.

Express mail An accelerated delivery service for which the customer pays a surcharge and receives faster delivery.

Express mail service An international service under the auspices of the UPU for the acceleration of mail.

Extension hole Perforation hole appearing in a sheet margin as the first or last of a row of perforation holes.

External distortion Flaw caused by the application of force to a subject on a printing plate.

Extra extension hole An additional perforation hole alongside an “Extension hole” to help identify the position on a rotary perforator (see also) where repair may be necessary.


Face or front For most postcard collectors this refers to the picture side of the postcard. As in the back definition many philatelic collectors consider the front the address side.

Face The front of a stamp; the side bearing the design.

Face value The value of a stamp as inscribed on its face. For letter-denominated or non-denominated stamps, the understood postal value of the stamp.

Facer canceller table Equipment designed for the automatic facing and cancelling of mail.

Facing indicator mark (FIM) is a bar code designed by the USPS to assist in the automated processing of mail. The FIM is a set of vertical bars printed on the envelope or postcard near the upper edge, just to the left where the stamp is placed. The FIM is intended for use primarily on pre-printed envelopes and postcards and is applied by the company printing the envelopes or postcards, not by the USPS.

Facsimile A reproduction of a genuine stamp or cover. Such items are usually made with no intent to deceive collectors or postal officials. Catalogue illustrations may also be considered facsimiles.

Faded stamps Stamps where colours or papers have faded through exposure to light, chemicals or water.

Faidherbe French Colonial key type.

Fake A stamp, cover or cancel that has been altered or concocted to appeal to a collector. In a broad sense, fakes include repairs, re-perforations and re-gummed stamps, as well as painted-in cancels, bogus cancels or counterfeit markings. Sometimes entire covers are faked.

FAM “Foreign Air Mail”

Fancy cancel A general term to describe any pictorial or otherwise unusual obliterating postmark. More specifically, the term is used to describe elaborate handmade pictorial cancels of the 19th century, such as the Waterbury “Running Chicken” of 1869 or the many intricate geometric shapes used during that period in post offices around the country. Outside the US they are normally termed cork cancels. The term may also be used for any postmark with a pictorial design.

Fantasy stamps Pieces of paper which purport to be postage stamps but bear the names of imaginary places.

Farley’s follies During 1933-34, US Postmaster General James A Farley supplied a few imperforate sheets of current commemorative issues to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other government officials. The resulting uproar from US collectors forced the government to release for public sale 20 issues in generally imperforate and un-gummed sheets.

Fast colours Inks resistant to fading.

fastPOST An express service offered by NZ Post from 31 March 1993 which ceased 31 December 2017.  It offered next working day delivery target for sending across town or between major towns and cities and offered a range of letter sizes and postage options. The rate for a standard letter during most of the time the service operated was twice the standard post rate.

FCP Fluorescent coated paper

FDC First Day Cover

Federaciȯn InterAmericana de Filatelica (Spanish) “Inter-American Philatelic Federation” (FIAF). Created in 1968, FIAF is the Continental Federation comprised of FIP member countries of the Americas.

Federation Internationale de Philatelie (French) International Philatelic Federation (FIP) an association of national philatelic federations set up in 1926 to safeguard the interests of stamp collectors at an international level. It also accredits major International Philatelic exhibitions.

Federation Internationale des Societies Aerophilateliques (French) International Federation of Aerophilatelic Societies, more commonly known as FISA, is the umbrella association for aerophilatelic societies. FISA represents and promotes aerophilately and astrophilately for its collectors around the world.

Federation of European Philatelic Associations (FEPA) is an Associate Member (Continental Federation) of FIP. National Federations, Associations or Unions of European countries can be FEPA members and by special agreement with FEPA and FIP the Israel Philatelic Federation is a FEPA Member.  FEPA Membership is also accepted for national Federations of countries in North Africa as long as no African Continental Federation has been founded.

Federation of Inter-Asia Philately (FIAP) is the Continental Federation comprised of FIP member countries of Asia, Australasia and Southern Africa.

Federation of New Zealand Philatelic Societies Predecessor of the “New Zealand Philatelic Federation”.

Fee Stamps Revenue stamps with the purpose of recording payment of or exemption from a fee for which some service is to be or has been rendered. See also “tax stamps” and “credit stamps”.

Fee Stamps Revenue stamps with the purpose of recording payment of or exemption from a fee for which some service is to be or has been rendered. See also “tax stamps” and “credit stamps”.

Feldpost (German) Field Post Office (FPO).

Felicitations In addition to the medal awarded, a jury may express Felicitations for those exhibits demonstrating outstanding philatelic research or originality. Felicitations may not be given to the same exhibit twice (at the same level of competition – i.e. National or International) unless a totally new aspect of research has been introduced.

Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand “FRNZPNZ”.

FEPA Federation of European Philatelic Societies.

FFQ“Full face queen”

FIAF see “Federacion Inter-Americana de Filatelica”

FIAP “Federation of Inter-Asia Philately”

Fictitious stamp Any Facsimile, imitation or representation of any stamp.

Field post office (FPO) A military postal service operating in the field, either on land or at sea. Frequently abbreviated FPO.

Fifth clause post The fifth clause of the Postage Act 1801 (UK) authorised under guarantee certain village posts for the conveyance of letters to the neighbouring post town.

Figure type Design in which a numeral is the most prominent feature.

Fil rouge (French) “red thread” an expression used to describe the recurring element throughout an exhibit. Used in the “GREV” for Youth Exhibits.

Find A new discovery, usually of something that was not known to exist. It can be a single item or a hoard of stamps or covers.

FIP classes The GREX provides for the following competitive classes: FIP Championship Class (only at General World Exhibitions; Traditional Philately; Postal History; Postal Stationery; Aerophilately; Thematic Philately; Maximaphily; Philatelic Literature; Youth Philately; Revenue; Astrophilately; and, Open Philately. All of these competitive classes, except Literature, include Modern Philately and One Frame exhibits.

FIP Federation Internationale de Philatelie

First day ceremony An event held to commemorate the first day of issue of a stamp or postal stationery item.  It usually occurs at the location most relevant to purpose of issue.

First day ceremony programme A programme given to those who attend first day ceremony.  In the US the programme contains the actual stamp affixed and postmarked, a list of participants, and information on the stamp subject.

First day cover (FDC) A cover bearing a stamp tied by a cancellation showing the date of the official first day of issue of that stamp.

First Day Cover exhibit An exhibit in National (non-FIP) class featuring first day covers which may also include material used in their design and development.

First flight cover (FFC) Souvenir covers carried on flights inaugurating new airmail routes or new airmail services.

First side-faces NZ stamp issue with a left-facing portrait of Queen Victoria (1874-1882) and inscribed POSTAGE.

First-class mail A class of mail including letters, postcards and postal cards, all matter wholly or partially in writing or typewriting, and all matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection.

FISA Federation Internationale des Societies Aerophilateliques.

Fiscal / Fiscal stamps A revenue stamp or similar label denoting the payment of tax, duty or fees other than postage. Fiscals are ordinarily affixed to documents and cancelled by pen, canceler or mutilation. Because of their similarity to postage stamps, fiscals have occasionally been used either legally or illegally to prepay postage. See also “Postal fiscal”, “Revenues”.

Fiscal cancellation A cancellation used by the Stamp Duties Department, Lands & Deeds, Supreme and Magistrates Courts and Public Trust Office.

Fiscal cancellation of postage stamps Many postage stamps have been validated for payment of revenue or fiscal duties and taxes.

Fiscals Stamps issued mainly for duty, fine or tax purposes. 
NZ Post Office definitives were inscribed “Postage and Revenue” between 1882 and 1953 to indicate they could be used fiscally or as postage. Some of the stamps inscribed ‘Stamp Duty” have been available at post offices and have been used on postal matter. See “Postal fiscal”.

Flag cancellation Type of machine postmark in which a design resembling a flag is substituted for the usual wavy line.

Flamme illustré (French) pictorial slogan postmark.

Flat plate A flat metal plate used in a printing press, as opposed to a curved or cylindrical plate. The process in which it is used is called flatbed printing.

Flaw A blemish which occurs during production.  Most flaws are due to a deterioration of or damage to a printing base. Several, have persisted throughout an issue (e.g. the 1935 2/- “Coqk” and 4d Dunedin Exhibition “Postagf”). It is not unusual for printers to treat impressions with flaws by using a smoothing instrument, a burin or a transfer roller. In these cases, the philatelic significance of a stamp with a flaw is increased as it indicates a state in the life of a printing plate.

Fleet Post Office (FPO) An official US post office for use by US military naval units (Navy, Marines and Coast Guards) abroad. Frequently abbreviated FPO.

Flexography A form of rotary letterpress printing which derives its name from the use of flexible rubber plates and quick drying inks.

Floating safe mail Mail carried in a special fire proof safe aboard ship.

Flong A papier maché sheet used to make a mould from which a stereotype (see also) is made.

Flown cover Covers or cards which bear markings to show that they were carried by airmail.

Fluorescence Some stamp inks fluoresce in different colours when viewed under ultra violet light.

FM (French) Franchise Militaire. Postage stamps overprinted FM given to servicemen allowing them freedom form basic postage.

Foil stamps Stamps printed on paper faced with metal foil.

Folded transfer In lithography when a transfer (see also) used in building up a design on the printing base becomes folded part of the stamp’s design will show signs of the fold.

Folder Sometimes called Vacation Folders these were souvenir mailers with postcard views in an accordion pleated arrangement.

Fonopost See “Phonopost”

Foodtown booklet See “envelope booklet”.

Forces Mail Mail sent by troops serving in the field during wars and military campaigns.

Foreign Air Mail (FAM) Numbered routes (between 1 and 98) assigned by USPS to US airlines carrying mail October 1920 until the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.  For example FAM 19 was Pan Am California to New Zealand.

Foreign Entry When original transfers are erased incompletely from a plate, they can appear with new transfers of a different design which are subsequently entered on the plate.

Foreign Mail Branch See “Overseas Mail Branch”.

Foreign mail stamps Stamps issued by several countries specifically for use on mail going overseas.

Forerunner Term used to describe the historical predecessors of a philatelic group or issue. For example Turkish stamps before 1918 cancelled in Palestine are forerunners of Israeli issues. So are the various European nations’ issues for use in Palestine, and the subsequent issues of the Palestine Mandate. The term “forerunner” is also used to describe a stamp issued before another stamp or set, if the earlier issue may have influenced the design or purpose of the later issue.

Forgery A completely fraudulent reproduction of stamp designs, overprints, surcharges or cancellations. There are two general types of forgeries: those intended to defraud the postal authorities (see also “Counterfeit”), and those intended to defraud the collectors (see also “Bogus”). Forgeries have also been produced for propaganda purposes. See also “Album weed”.

Format Describes the shape and size of a stamp.

Forme 1) An assemblage of moulds, of clichés or type, for producing an electrotype or stereotype plate

Forme 2) Printing units consisting of type slugs, electrotypes or stereotypes fixed together to produce an overprint or surcharge.

Formular aerogram Aerograms without imprinted stamp (e.g. in NZ, Zimbabwe and Ireland) which can be issued by either postal authorities or by private companies.

Forwarding agent Individuals or organisations undertaking the onward dispatch of mail.

Foxing Small brown spot blemishes on the postcard. The causes of foxing are fungal in nature or the result of residual metals included in the card from the pulp process.

FPO “Field Post Office” or “Fleet Post Office”

Fractional controls Public accountancy marks consisting of a letter above two figures separated with a bar. They were printed in sheet margins of GB photogravure stamps between 1934 and 1947.

Fractional stamps Stamps which are specially designed so that they can be divided into parts.

Frakturschrift (German) Type of printing used in Germany until 1940 common in overprints and stamp inscriptions.

Frama / Frama labels A general name used for an automatic stamp, derived from the name of the Swiss firm, Frama AG. Automatic stamps were produced individually by a machine on demand in a denomination from 00.01 to 99.99 selected by the customer. New Zealand had a limited number of frama machines which operated from 21 February 1996 to December 2005. See also “ATM”, “machine label”.

Frame The outer portion of a stamp design, often consisting of a line or a group of panels. See also “Duty Plate”.

Frame plate The plate used in the production of bi-coloured stamps to print the frame.

Franchise stamps Private stamps which are issued to charitable or national institutions to permit mail bearing these stamps to go through the mail free of charge.

Frank / Franking An indication on a cover that postage is prepaid, partially prepaid or that the letter is to be carried free of postage. Franks may be written, hand-stamped, imprinted or affixed. Postage stamp and postage meter stamps are modern methods of franking a letter.

Frank stamps Stamps issued by some countries to show that no postage is payable.

Franking machine See “Meter”

Franking privilege A privilege many countries provide for politicians and others to post mail without having to pay postage. A copy of the individual’s signature replaces the stamp on the envelope. Authentic signatures of famous individuals can be valuable collectors’ items.

Freak An abnormal, usually non-repetitive occurrence in the production of stamps resulting in a variation from the normal stamp, but falls short of producing an error. Most paper folds, over-inking and perforation shifts are freaks. Those abnormalities occurring repetitively are called varieties and may result in major errors.

Free frank or front Cut out front of a letter showing the name and address, together with the endorsement of the sender, date of posting and signature entitling the sender to frank the letter.

Free franking A franking which indicates postage is free. Free franking is usually limited to soldiers’ mail or selected government correspondence. For example in Great Britain from the days of Queen Elizabeth I to those of Queen Victoria, Ministers, Members of both Houses of Parliament and certain other privileged persons could “Frank” correspondence by signing their names on the front and letters so franked were delivered free.

Free mail Mail transmitted free of charge.

Freepost A postal service provided by various postal administrations, whereby a person sends mail without affixing postage, and the recipient pays the postage when collecting the mail.

Fresh entry When an impression is found to be unsatisfactory it is usual for the faulty impression to be erased and a fresh entry made.  When the whole of the original impression has been removed the stamps will show no evidence of treatment but there have been instances where some doubling has arisen from remnants of the original impression. Fresh entries are made before the plate is put to press. See also “Re-entry”.

Front The front of a cover with most or all of the back and side panels torn away or removed. Fronts, while desirable if they bear unusual or uncommon postal markings, are less desirable than an intact cover.

FRPSL Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London.

FRPSNZ “Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society of NZ”. The rules of the Society provide that this distinction be granted only to a member “who has done outstanding original philatelic research work which has been published for the benefit of philately or who has performed meritorious service for the advancement of philately.”

Frugal exhibit An exhibit in a National (non-FIP) class which concentrates on the criteria of treatment, importance, knowledge, research condition and presentation.  There are limiting criteria with respect to the value of items included.  The purpose is to provide an opportunity for collectors to display interesting items and enhance their philatelic skills rather than blunt their cheque books.

Fugitive inks Printing inks used in stamp production that easily fade if exposed to a bright light or run in water or chemicals. Many governments have used fugitive inks to print stamps to counter attempts at forgery or the removal of cancellations.

Full face Portraits of persons on stamps facing full front.

Full Face Queen (FFQ) The first type of New Zealand stamps with the full-face portrait of Queen Victoria.

Fumigated mail Mail which has been treated to prevent the spread of infection. See also “Disinfected mail”.


Galvanotyping Term synonymous with electro typing.

Game Bird Habitat stamps Stamps depicting a different game bird each season commencing from 1993. All game bird hunters contribute to the fund when they buy their annual hunting licence because $2 goes directly to the programme. The stamps and associated product are marketed by NZ Post. Purchase of a stamp or product contributes to wildlife conservation.

Garter watermark Watermark representing the insignia of the Order of the Garter, large, medium and small.

Gauge Term describing both stamp separation and the instrument used to measure them. See also “Perforation Gauge”.

GC paper Grande Consommation

GEA Overprint on George VI stamps of East Africa and Uganda denoting German East Africa

Gel or Gelatin Coated Postcards. An American term but one that is applicable elsewhere. Postcards with a thin glossy surface layer. The surface layer can be prone to cracking.

Gelatin Finish A colourless or slightly yellow, transparent, brittle protein formed by boiling the specially prepared skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals. This finish leaves a shiny attractive surface although very delicate and usually seen with cracks.

Gelatin Silver Developing Out (Silver Print) The gelatin-silver developing out process produced the first ‘black and white’ photographic image.  Most earlier photographs had a warm, soft, sepia colour but as it was developed with chemicals, the gelatin-silver developing out produced steely, cool colours and usually the overall affect is different from the earlier warm, fuzzy colours. Under magnification the fibres of the paper cannot be seen as the clear layer of gelatin placed over the image, in part for protection, hides the fibre. Gelatin-silver prints could be printed on many different papers. Most real photo postcards used this process.

Gelatin Silver Printing Out & Collodion Printing Out Prints These are two distinct photographic processes but as they are nearly indistinguishable from each other and were produced during the same period they are often grouped together. Prints from these processes often look much like albumen prints which they largely replaced. As a thin clear layer of gelatin was put over the image for protection, the fibres of the paper cannot be seen under magnification unlike albumen prints. The paper is thin but unlike albumen paper it did not have to be mounted although many were. Unlike albumen prints, enlargement was possible and many large sizes were made. Many early real photo postcards used this process.

General collection One that embraces stamps of many countries.

General Letter Office Name by which the British Post Office was originally known.

General Post Office 1)1) In Britain (until 1969) the department of the central Government that provided postal and telephone services

General Post Office 2)) The main post office in a locality.

General Post Office 3) The administrative headquarters of the post office in New Zealand which was situated in Wellington. It exercised a general control over all of the operations of the Department.

General Postal Union Original name for the Universal Postal Union

General Regulations for the Evaluation of Exhibits (GREV) Apply to all classes of competitive exhibitions and are intended to serve the Jury as regulations and as a guide to the collector for the development of their exhibits.

General Regulations of the FIP for Exhibitions (GREX) The overarching regulations which apply to any exhibition with FIP patronage or recognition. In addition to general stipulations the GREX describes the conditions under which exhibitors may enter; the roles of the “consultant”, “commissioners” and jury; responsibilities of the exhibition management; and, provisions should an FIP Congress be held in conjunction with the exhibition.

Generic smilers In addition to Customised Smilers sheets (see also “Smilers”) Royal; Mail provides the stamps with a printed motif on the labels in place of a personal photograph.

Geometrical type cancellation A cancellation with a geometrical design.  Those used in NZ were cut by hand upon wood, cork or metal.

Germania the longest lived German stamp also used in many German Colonies.

Ghost tagging The appearance of a faint image impression in addition to the normal inked impression. This is caused by mis-registration of the phosphor tagging in relation to the ink. Sometimes, a plate number impression will have an entirely different number from the ink plate, giving the impression of an error: one dark (normal) number and one light (ghost) number.

Glacé paper Paper that has been given a glossy finish by glazing with friction or applied heat.

Glassine A thin, semi-transparent paper that is moderately resistant to the passage of air and moisture. Envelopes made of glassine are commonly used for temporary stamp storage. Glassine is also used in the manufacture of stamp hinges.

Glider mail Mail conveyed by glider.

Goats eyes Nickname for the second issue Brazilian stamps.

Goldbeaters skin A thin, tough, translucent resin based paper. The 1886 issue of Prussia was printed in reverse on goldbeater’s skin, with the gum applied over the printing. These stamps are brittle and virtually impossible to remove from the paper to which they are affixed.

Golden Age The era in which postcards were at their peak of popularity. Generally considered to begin in 1902 when the introduction of the divided back and improved printing technologies allowed publishers to produce cards with images of a larger size and quality. The Golden Age continued through to the start of the First World War in 1914.

Government Department printed frank Between 1861 and 1902 NZ Government Department mail was sent free of postage. For certain Departments the Post Office approved use of distinctive printed franks.

Government Life Insurance Department see NZ Government Life Insurance Department.

Government Printer

Government Printing Office franks free postage “Government Department printed frank” (see also). First frank used from 1876, a second was introduced in 1886, an adhesive label in 1891,a design incorporating “VR” on 1898 and the last with “ER” in 1901.

GOVT PARCELS (Government parcels) Overprint on British stamps used for parcels dispatched on government service.

GPO “General Post Office”

GPU General Postal Union

Grain See “Mesh”.

Grande Consommation (French) emergency paper used for certain French stamps during and after WWI.

Granite paper A paper with coloured cotton, linen, jute or wool fibres embodied within it when the paper is made. This paper is used as a deterrent against forgery.

Graphite lines Vertical black lines printed on the back of certain British stamps in 1957 for experiments in automatic sorting. See also “Phosphor stamps”.

Graver A cutting tool commonly used for touching up or retouching.

Gravure A printing process utilizing an intaglio printing plate where ink is held in tiny cells etched into the cylinder by photographic and chemical means, rather than by hand engraving. Once known as photogravure when photography was involved in the process. See also “Intaglio”.

Greeting Cards Most collectors refer to this term when describing birthday and holiday type postcards. Christmas, Easter, Birthdays and most other holidays and special occasions are well represented but some, such as “Labor Day” cards, are considered scarce. With early greeting cards punlishers, competing for sales, printed cards using intricate embossing techniques, high calibre art work, superior inks, expensive lithographic processes and even novelty additions such as glitter, ribbons, metal, silk and feathers.

Greetings stamp Stamp issued with labels attached giving various forms of greeting.

GREV “General Regulations for the Evaluation of Exhibits”

GREX “General Regulations of the FIP for Exhibitions”

GRI (Latin) Georgius Rex Imperator

Grill A pattern of parallel lines (or dots at the points where lines would cross) forming a grid. A grill is usually either the impressed breaks added to stamps as a security measure (US issues of 1867-71 and Peru issues of 1874-79); or a grill-like cancelling device used on various 19th-century issues.

Grus Aus (German) “Greeting from”. In the 1890s the words Gruss Aus first appeared as part of the design on town view postcards published in German speaking European countries. The fashion spread swiftly with each country using an equivalent greeting. These cards were the forerunner of the seaside holiday souvenir postcards.

Guarantee mark Mark on stamp to indicate that it is authorised for postal purposes.

Guaranteed delivery A service introduced by Royal Mail (1993) with distinctive labels and stationery guaranteeing delivery by mid-day on the day following posting. See “Special Delivery”.

Guard Bridge Paper Co Ltd first became associated with NZ stamps in 1898 as they supplied some un-watermarked paper for the pictorials.  Watermarked rolls produced at the Guard Bridge Mills were supplied to Harrison & Sons Ltd from 1950.

Guerrilla stamps Stamps issued by guerrilla forces dating from 1895.

Guide arrow Marginal mark on stamp sheets indicating the centre point of the sheet or pane.

Guide dot A dot punched in the surface of a plate to assist in the correct placing of an impression.  Prominent examples are found in the Penny Universal printed from the booklet plate and from a set of plates used from 1904.

Guide line A line cut in a plate or transferred from a die to a transfer roller to assist in the correct alignment of impressions on a plate.

Guilloché (French) Said to be named after a French engineer named Guillot, is a decorative technique in which a very precise, intricate and repetitive pattern is mechanically engraved into an underlying material via engine turning (see also).

Gum breaker bars Lines on the gummed side of stamps breaking up the pattern of the gum and preventing the stamps from curling.

Gum The mucilage applied to the backs of adhesive postage stamps, revenue stamps or envelope flaps. Gum is an area of concern for stamp collectors. It may crack and harm the paper of the stamp itself. It may stain or adhere to other stamps or album pages under certain climatic conditions. Many collectors are willing to pay extra for 19th- and some 20th-century stamps with intact, undisturbed original gum. See also “Adhesive”.

Gutter (1) The selvedge separating panes on a sheet of stamps. The gutter is usually discarded during processing. The gutter may be unprinted or bear plate numbers, accounting or control numbers, advertising or other words or markings.

Gutter (2) The space between impressions on a plate or cylinder; between the designs of stamps in a sheet; or, between plates.

Gutter pair Two stamps, one on either side of a gutter panel from a sheet of stamps.

Gutter snipe One or more stamps to which is attached the full gutter from between panes, plus any amount of an adjoining stamp or stamps. This term is typically used in reference to US stamps. Gutter snipes are freaks caused by mis-registration of the cutting device or paper fold-over.


Hair line A very fine line extraneous to a design.  This can result from a scratch on a recess plate or a photogravure cylinder.

Half tone process A photo mechanical method of representing light and shade by dots of varying size, extensively used for the reproduction of illustrations in newspapers and magazines.

Half-National exhibition A specialised National stamp exhibition i.e. one with a limited number of classes.  Typically, around half of the normal classes and frequently linked to another exhibition within the same country and year that offers the balance of the classes.

Hand painted / tinted Postcards or stamps with colour added by hand normally using watercolours and stencils.

Hand-made paper Paper made by hand in moulds and thus in separate sheets instead of machine made continuous rolls.

Handstamp Implement used to apply a postmark or cancellation by hand. Thence also the postmark or cancellation applied by hand.

Handstruck postage stamps Marks made by a handstamp direct on to postal packets to show pre-payment of postage.

Hangsell A process of packaging product for retail selling so it can be hung on a hook for display.  This usually entails a backing card with a punched hole. Booklets, presentation packs and coil dispenser boxes are commonly prepared in this way.

Harrison & Sons Ltd produced NZ stamps by the photogravure process.  The firm used Guard Bridge paper and calendered it.

Harrow perforations A means of perforating whole sheets at a single stroke.

Harvesters Name given to the reaper design stamps of Hungary.

Hatching Series of shading lines usually parallel and close together.

Head plate One of a pair of plates used for printing key type designs. The head plate is used to print the portrait.

Head post office (HPO) the main post office in a town.

Health Stamps Stamps bearing a premium for health projects In new Zealand stamps that carry a surcharge donated to the Children’s Health Camps throughout New Zealand that were issued annually by the post office from 1929 to 2016.

Health stamps.

Heavily embossed Degree of embossing is greater than average and colours appear to be airbrushed rather than printed realistically. Sometimes has a flat paper backing.

Hectograph Method of printing from a gelatine base which holds a design in a special dye.

Helecon A chemical substance of the zinc sulphide group added to printing ink to facilitate electronic sorting of mail.

Helicopter mail Mail carried by Helicopter.

Heliogravure French term for photogravure.

Hidden dates Date of manufacture of postage stamps concealed somewhere in the design.

High value packets Parcels of banknotes and security documents sent through the post on behalf of the clearing banks 1970-73, sometimes distinguished by red labels inscribed HVP (see also)

High value The term applied to stamps which represent a higher value of postage. Not to be confused with the actual market value of a stamp.

Highway Post Office (HPO) Portable mail-handling equipment for sorting mail in transit on highways (normally by truck) and the term is applied to the vehicle. The last official US HPO ran 30 June 1974.

Hinge Stamp hinges are small, rectangular-shaped pieces of glassine paper, usually gummed on one side. Folded with the gummed side out, the hinge is used to mount stamps. Most modern hinges are peelable. Once dry, they may be easily removed from the stamp, leaving little trace of having been applied.

Historical Cards Historical cards are printed to commemorate events such as war, social problems, expositions, parades, coronations, politics and so on. Often this type of card was made of a real photograph with few copies being offered for sale. This is especially true of disaster cards depicting floods, fires, wrecks, etc. Often the historical significance of a card comes from the message written by the sender.

HM/OW Her Majesty’s Office of Works

Hold to light A novelty postcard with die cut or transparent areas designed to allow the transmission of light through parts of the image to create a ‘lit up’ effect when the card is held to a light source. Hold to Light postcards are of three distinct types: Hold to light Die Cut Postcards; “Hold to light Transparency Postcards”; and, “Hold to light Slide Transparency Postcards”

Hold to light Die Cut Postcards are triple layered cards on which certain parts of the topmost layer have been cut out, a middle layer with thin coloured tissue paper and a bottom layer for the Address backing. When held up to a strong light the cut out portions appear brightly coloured and illuminated. These cards generally highlight windows, the moon, flowers, or other small discrete cut-out areas.

Hold to light Slide Transparency Postcards are, as the name implies, a slide transparency sandwiched between two layers of a postcard. These are a rare type.

Hold to light Transparency Postcards are more sophisticated than hold to light die cut postcards. Also made of three or more layers, these have a “hidden design” which is usually related to the front design. Objects, characters, colours, or scenes appear when the postcard is held in front of a strong light. These cards are classified in four groups: (a) day into night scene (b) the colour changes (usually from black and white to colours); (c) a new image appears (which may or may not be related to the front image); and (d) a partial image appears.

Holed cancellation Stamps from which holes have been punched out for cancellation.

Hologram An image that appears to be three-dimensional when tilted or angled to the light.

Honour envelope Envelope bearing an inscription signifying its use by forces on active service who certified on their honour that the contents did not disclose any military matters.

Hooded date stamp A circular date stamp having an additional concentric segment around the top in the form of a hood for the purpose of containing a distinctive inscription.

Hors concours (French) “outside of competition”. The term applies to an exhibit which is participating without competing for an award. Most commonly this occurs when an exhibit falls outside the rules of the exhibition’s “IREX” or “Prospectus”.

Hotel posts Stamps used in connection with postal services organised by hotels in remote areas.

Howard paper William Howard & Sons Ltd manufactured some of the chalk-surfaced paper with NZ and star watermark used for relief-printed stamps.

HPO “Highway post office” or “Head post office”

H-roulette The cuts are shaped like the letter H. See “roulette”.

Hue or tone The sensory characteristic described as blue, green, yellow, etc. and dependent on the wave length of reflected light. See also “Colour”.

Humidor A humidifying box or sweat box for removing unwanted paper from stamps.

HVP “High value packet”.

HWDC Heathrow World Distribution Centre is a sorting office for international mail operated by Royal Mail opened in 2003. All mail entering and leaving the UK is sorted at HWDC under tight aviation security standards, following the closure of all other international mail handling facilities in the UK.

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) A chemical bleaching and cleaning fluid.

Hyphen perforation Form of perforation in which paper is punched out in narrow strips instead of the usual round holes.


Ideal Stamp British post office competition held at the 1912 Jubilee International Stamp Exhibition. The winning design was not accepted for use by the post office!

Ident Code letter or number printed during the automatic sorting of mail to identify the sorter or machine.

IFSDA International Federation of Stamp Dealers’ Associations

Illegal postage Postage stamps which are regarded as illegal or those which contravene the postal laws of one or more countries e.g. Rhodesia

Illegal stamp A stamp that carries the name of a legitimate country but was not authorised by the designated postal operator of that country for production.

ILO International Labour Office. See also “BIT”.

Imitation art paper A smooth white paper drawn from stock by the Government Printer in 1925 and converted into special stamp paper by reproductions of NZ and star lithographed on the back of the sheets.

Imitation perforations Simulated perforations printed around stamps.

IMP “Integrated Mail Processor”.

Imperf between This variety occurs when a row of perforations has been missed.  These should be at least in pairs.

Imperf horizontally or vertically These varieties result where sheets have been run through a line or rotary machine one way only.

Imperf on three sides This variety is due to the omission of a strike of a comb head.

Imperf on top When sheets are run through a comb machine with the short rows running upwards it is necessary to have a strike of the head on the top selvedge to provide the horizontal perforations at the top of the top row of stamps.  There have been instances where this strike was missed.  Some sheets of the 1902-03 pictorial 3d, 6d, 8d and 1/- perforated perf 11 were issued with the top row of perforations missing.

Imperf variety There have been numerous instances where NZ stamps which should have been perforated were issued imperforate.  It is preferable these should be in pairs.

Imperforate, imperf Lacking perforations, roulettes or serrates. The earliest stamps were imperforate by design, but after about 1860 most stamps were perforated. Modern imperforates are usually errors or are produced specifically for sale to stamp collectors.

IMPEX IMP without the segregation and culling section

Impressed stamp applied by a machine to paper to leave an impression e.g. a revenue stamp

Impression 1) Reproduction of a design transferred from a die to a transfer roller or to a mould.

Impression 2) An individual unit on a plate.

Impression 3) The reproduction of a design from a die, plate or cylinder on paper.

Impression 4) A mark impressed by an instrument e.g. date stamp, obliterator, rubber stamp.

Imprimatur (Latin) “let it be printed”. The first sheets of stamps from an approved plate, normally checked and retained in a file prior to a final directive to begin stamp production from a plate. Before the early stamps of Great Britain were issued to the public an Imprimatur or registration sheet was printed on watermarked paper and in the colour selected for the denomination/colour to be registered at Somerset House. Normally it refers to an individual stamp from the registration sheet.

Imprimés (French) Printed papers sent by post

Imprint block A block of stamps taken from a part of the sheet where the printer’s name or imprint is located in the margin.

Imprint The name of the printer, usually printed on the selvedge, but may appearing on the bottom of each stamp. See also “Plate marking” and “Cylinder marking”.

Imprinted stamps Stamps other than adhesives, printed direct on postal stationery items (postal cards, envelopes, etc.). See also “indicium”.

India paper A type of paper which from 1875 has been based on bleached hemp and rag fibres, that produced a very thin, tough opaque white paper. It has often been used for the printing of die proofs of postage stamps.

Indicator marking A group of letters etc. printed to the left of a meter mark.

Indicium The stamp impression of a postage meter or the imprint on postal stationery (as opposed to an adhesive stamp), indicating prepayment and postal validity. Plural: indicia.

Individual Regulations of an Exhibition see “IREX”

Inflation issues Stamps with a huge face value e.g. Germany 1923.

Ink Mixture of pigments, oils, varnishes, driers, toners with compounds and fugitive chemicals made in accordance with the type of printing process.

Inkjet postmarks Cancellations on mail applied a type of computer printing that recreates a digital image by propelling droplets of ink. Inkjet postmarking commenced in New Zealand in 1993 and continues (2017).

Inkjet printing A type of computer printing that recreates a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto paper, plastic, or other substrates. Inkjets are used for applying cancellations and other marks on mail. (See also “inkjet slogan”.)

Inland mail stamps Stamps meant for internal mail and thus inscribed.

Inland Revenue Inscription found on British fiscal stamps to denote their use to pay tax or revenue charges

Inscription The letters, words and numbers that are part of a postage stamp design.

Inselpost (German) Island post (Channel Islands during WWII).

Inserted by hand A minor type of hand painting in which missing accents have been touched in on the stamp manually.

Instalment (set) A series of postcards which when assembled together form a larger picture. Horizontal series display images such as march hares or horses running. Rectangular series often display an artist’s depictions of a notable figure or event.

Instructional labels, marks and etiquettes Widely used by postal authorities to indicate special handling of mail in transit, e.g. fragile, perishable.

Insured mail Letters, packets, parcels insured against loss on the payment of a special fee by the sender.

Intaglio (Italian) “in recess”. A form of printing in which the inked image is produced by that portion of the plate sunk below the surface.  The earliest used method for printing postage stamps {i.e. the ‘Penny-Black’} in which a hand engraved master die is transferred to a printing plate from which the design on a stamp is made by ink from that portion of the plate sunk below the surface (recessed). “Engraving”, “recess”, “etching” and “photogravure” are forms of intaglio printing. See also “Transfer roller”.

Integrated mail processor (IMP) A system using automated OCR of postcodes. Integrated mail processors scan the front and back of an envelope and translate addresses into machine-readable code.

Intelpost Electronic facsimile system for the transmission of documents.

Intensity Graduation of colour or impression.  Variations can be due to differences in pressure, quantity of ink of quality of paper.

Interleaving Sheets inserted between panes of stamps within a booklet.  These sheets included waxed paper or contained printed material often commercial advertising or information about the stamp issue (as in the case for “Prestige booklets”).

Intermediate die A die made from the original die to facilitate alterations being effected.

Intermediate perforations Perforations by Perkins Bacon printings of 1860s in which perforations produced by a certain machine deteriorated from the original clean cut to intermediate and finally rough.

Intermediate Size Postcards between Court Cards and Standard Size, measuring 5¼ x 3¼ in (130 × 80 mm).

Internal four state code A barcode system used on mail by Royal Mail and variants by other postal authorities.

International exhibition An exhibition which is held under the patronage of FIP or a Continental Federation.

International mail consists of three categories of mail LC Letters et Cartes (letters and cards), AO Autre Objects (other Articles) and CP Colis Postaux (parcel post).

International Reply Coupon (IRC) A redeemable certificate issued by member nations of the UPU to provide for return postage from recipients in other countries. IRCs are exchangeable for postage at a post office.

Internee mail Correspondence from persons interned during time of war. See also “Prisoner of War Airmail”.

Interpanneau An interpanneau pair consists of two stamps with a blank label in between. See also “gutter pair”.

Interpostal seals Circular adhesive labels used to seal the flap of an envelope or to signify official correspondence.

Interrupted mail Mail which has been detained or delayed.

Interrupted perforation A means of strengthening strips of stamps used in vending machines where gaps are created in the line of perforations by the omission or wider spacing of certain pins.

Invalidated stamp Postage stamp which has been demonetised or is no longer available for prepayment of postage.

Invert The term generally used to describe any error where one portion of the design is inverted in relation to the other portion(s). An overprint applied upside down is also an invert.

Inverted centre A stamp in which the central vignette is upside down in relation to the frame. The only reported example of a NZ stamp is the 4d Lake Taupo.

Inverted frame A stamp in which the frame is upside down in relation to the centre.

Inverted overprint A stamp whose overprint is upside down in relation to the stamp.

Inverted watermark Watermark upside down in relation to the image of the stamp.

Invicta Watermark in serif capitals found in paper used in 1872 for the 2d FFQ. The name was surrounded a lozenge design.  See also “Lozenge”.

IR Inland Revenue

IRC “International Reply Coupon”.

IREX Individual Regulations drawn up by an exhibition’s management.  In the case of FIP and Continental Federation exhibitions the IREX must not conflict with the “GREX” and be approved by the appointed FIP or, as appropriate,  the Continental Federation Consultant before publication. At National or Regional levels the IREX are commonly referred to as the “Prospectus”.

Iriodin A type of ink which gives a shiny iridescent effect to the solid part of the background. Used as a security feature.

Irregular perforations Perforations out of alignment or of mixed gauge.

Issue 1) A term referring to a specific design which is usually noted in a catalogue with a unique number. Varieties and errors can occur and are usually catalogued as a sub-type of the issue.

Issue 2) As in ‘to issue’, denotes the production and distribution of an item.

Ivory head Uncoloured area of the head of Queen Victoria on 1841 1d red of Great Britain when seen from the back. Blueing in the paper caused by printing of ink that contained prussiate of potash (Potassium ferrocyanide) on damp paper. The area of the head had less ink, so the white shadow of the head becomes apparent.


Japanese paper Soft fine paper made from the bark of the mulberry tree, long fibres accounting for its strength.

Joined paper Paper with a slight overlap where two strips of stamps from a sheet have been joined at the selvage to form a continuous coil.

Joint issue An issue of stamps by two or more independent countries to commemorate the same event.

Joint line The coloured line that often appears between coil stamps where the curved plate on a rotary press meet.

Jones paper (2) Samuel Jones (Export) Ltd accepted contracts for the supply of watermarked paper for stamps printed in England. They did not manufacture the paper but they did calender, gum and cut it.

Jones paper(1) Samuel Jones Ltd supplied a quantity of chalk-surfaced paper with NZ and star watermark.

Journal stamps Low value stamps specially designed and produced to prepay postage on newspapers, periodicals etc.

Journal tax stamps Stamps denoting taxes on newspapers but often conferring free transmission through the post.

Jubilee lines Coloured lines printed in the sheet or pane margins of certain British and Commonwealth issues. They were included on the printing plates for technical reasons to enable better prints to be made.

Judenpost (German) Jewish post

Jumbo roll A large roll of stamps used for the automated laminating of the stamps onto first day covers.

Junk mail Term used for unsolicited advertising mail.

Jusqu’a mark (French) “as far as”. A mark, found usually on airmail, followed by the name of a terminal. Each airmail terminus had a jusqu’a marking to indicate where the airmail ended and surface or other carriage commenced.


K Force NZ Forces in Korea.

Kaleidoscopes Postcards with a rotating wheel that reveals a myriad of colours when turned.

KEVII King Edward the Seventh of Great Britain

KEVIII King Edward the Eighth of Great Britain

Key plate The plate which prints the general design on stamps, specifically certain British Commonwealth issues requiring two separate printings.

Key type A basic stamp design utilized for the issues of two or more postal entities, usually differing in the country name and inscription of value. Many of the earlier colonial issues of Britain, France, Spain, Germany and Portugal are key types.

KGV King George the Fifth of Great Britain

KGVI King George the Sixth of Great Britain

Killer cancellation A cancellation that completely obliterates a postage stamp.

Kiloware A stamp mixture consisting of miscellaneous postally used stamps on envelope corner paper from various sources generally sold by weight.

King George V Memorial Children’s Health Camps Federation The organisation that once controlled Health Camps. It was authorised by the Post Office to produce and sell official souvenir covers used on the day of issue of Health stamps. After various changes to the management of health camps in 2003 it became Stand Children’s Services. See “health stamps”.

Kiss print A doubling of the printed design of a stamp caused by the paper contacting the inked plate out of precise register, usually because of slight buckling.  As the pressure roller flattens the sheet there is movement of the buckled part and a second impression or blurring results.  Some stamps which appear to be double prints (see also) are kiss prints.

KiwiStamp™ Non-denominated stamps issued by NZ Post providing the required postage of a Standard Post™ medium letter. Multiple KiwiStamp™ stamps can be used on a range of letter sizes and to send letters by fastPost™.

KuK (German) Kaiserliche und Königliche Imperial and Royal


Label Any stamp-like adhesive that is not a postage stamp or revenue stamp. See also “Bogus”, “Cinderella”.

Labelled stamps Stamps with labels.

Lady McLeod The ship depicted on a local stamp of Trinidad issued by David Bryce the owner and captain in April 1847 to prepay the carriage on letters carried by the vessel between Port of Spain and San Francisco.

Laid paper One of the two basic types of paper used in stamp printing. Laid paper is relatively think paper distinguished from wove paper by the presence of closely spaced thin, parallel lines caused by the wires of the dandy roll visible when the paper is held to light. The lines are usually a few millimetres apart. See also “Batonne”. The NZ 1904 2/- is known on vertically laid paper.

Language of stamps Angle of placement of stamp on a letter may indicate a message of a romantic nature.

Large letter Envelope no more than 180 x 324 mm, 10mm thickness and, for air mail purposes, no more than 200 g.

Large letter postcard A postcard that has the name of a place shown as a series of very large letters, inside of each of which is a picture of that locale. See also Big Letter.

Last day cover Souvenir posted on the last day of an issue of stamps. See also “LRD”.

Late fee A special fee payable for mail posted after the normal collection hours to catch the last post. Markings have been used to distinguish articles on which the fee has been paid and offices where large quantities were handled had distinctive date stamps.

Laureated issue Portrait has a laurel leaf see French issue of 1862-70.

Lazaret See “Disinfected Mail”

LC See “Letters et Carte”.

League of Nations stamps Swiss postage stamps overprinted “Société de Nations”

Lenticular printing A technology which produces printed images with an illusion of depth or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles. Examples of lenticular printing include flip and animation effects such as winking eyes, and modern advertising graphics that change their message depending on the viewing angle. NZ stamps include 2004 Olympic Games set depicting gold medal winning events by NZers at past Olympics.

Letter box A letter box has mail delivered to it by postmen and is located at residences or business sites but may, for example, in apartments be in a letter box ‘lobby’.

Letter card Postal stationery consisting of a folded card with or without an imprinted postage stamp and gummed outer edges. See also “Air mail letter cards”.

Letter of marque Government Permit allowing a specific ship to sail without convoy, the more speedily to deliver mail.

Letter sheet A sheet of paper that can be folded, usually sealed (most often with sealing wax in the 18th and 19th centuries), and mailed without the use of an envelope. Letter sheets derive from the form of written correspondence before the mid-19th century where letters were written on one or more sheets of paper that were folded and sealed in such a way that the address could be written on the outside. Letter sheets were also used by prisoners of war for ease of censorship by captors. Letter sheets bearing imprinted stamps are postal stationery. Letter sheets requiring stamps have also been produced by private firms. Most country’s postal authorities have issued letter sheets at some stage; however, most have discontinued their use, except in the form of an aerogram. See also “Air letter sheets”, “Air letter cards” and “Aerogram”.

Lettered cancellation A cancellation containing a letter or letters within an oval of bars or consisting of a letter with or without a border.

Letterpress halftone Printing process where an image is photographed through a glass screen with fine grid patterns onto a prepared copper plate negative. When the negative is developed to high-contrast, the smooth gradation of the original photograph is broken up into various sizes of dots. The coating on the negative hardens relative to the amount of exposure to light with shadows in the original image converted into large dots and highlights becoming small or no dots. After un-exposed coating is washed away, the plate is etched, resulting in a relief block for printing. The plate is inked and pressed against paper resulting in a photographic image made up of varying sizes of pure-black dots.

Letterpress Printing directly from the inked, raised surface (relief surface) of the printing plate.

Letters et Carte (French) “Letters and cards”.  A category of International Mail that includes letters, letter packages, aerogrammes and post cards.

Life Insurance stamps Postage stamps used on mail of the Government Life Insurance Department of New Zealand.

Limited edition packs Special product produced by NZ Post in limited numbers for many commemorative issues. The packs may contain all or some of a booklet with in-depth information about the issue; plate blocks of each stamp; a first cover signed by the designer; colour separations of one of the stamps; a numbered imperforate miniature sheet.

Line block Term relating to a block of stamps showing the gutter lines which are printed to mark the divisions of the stamp sheet into quarters or halves.

Line engraving Often used as synonym for recess-printing but should be restricted to instances where the design was cut in the die in a series of lines.

Line engraving Printing done from an intaglio plate produced from a hand-engraved die and transfer roll rather than by photographic or chemical means. The process uses a series of lines to form the design in steel or copper plate to create a ‘Master’ Die in reverse. The plate is then hardened and is impressed onto a softer metal plate or roller. The roller is then hardened and the design again transferred onto a thin plate that will form the printing plate. See also “Gravure”. The FFQs were printed from line-engraved plates.

Line pair A pair of coil stamps with a printed line between them. Stamps produced on a flatbed press have a line from the guideline between panes. Stamps produced on a rotary press have a joint line from the space where ink collects between the sections of curved rotary plates.

Line perforation In a line machine, the head or punching part consists of a metal bar containing a single row of pons with a corresponding row of holes in a bar or cutting part fitted in the bed of the machine. The pins fit closely into the holes so that the cutting edge formed by the mouth of each hole removes a disc of paper. Where horizontal and vertical lines of perforations cross there is, normally, some impingement of one hole on another so that corners of stamps have an appearance characteristic of the work of line or rotary machine differing from that of comb machines.

Linen Postcards An American term and specific to American postcards. Postcards produced on a distinctive textured paper with a surface resembling the weave of linen fabric. Generally dating from the 1920s to 1950s and usually have bright vibrant colours.

Liner Coated paper used as a backing for mint self-adhesive stamps. The liner allows the release of the stamp, which may then be applied with pressure to envelope paper.

Linerless An experimental form of self-adhesive coil stamp that requires no liner. The mint stamps are rolled upon each other in a manner similar to adhesive tape. See US Scott 3132, 3133.

LIS Letter Information Sample/System

Lithography The process of printing from a stone or zinc plate based upon the mutual repellence of grease and water. The design is transferred to the stone by means of a special greasy composition or by a photographic process. When water and printing ink are rolled onto the surface the water covers the blank places and the ink adheres to the design so that when paper is brought into contact with the surface an impression is obtained.

LLM Lightly mounted mint

Local carriage labels Labels which prepay postage in areas where the post office does not provide a collection or delivery service.

Local stamps / Locals Stamp issues used within a limited area of a town or district or over a particular land, sea or air route. Local post mail requires the addition of nationally or internationally valid stamps for further service. Locals have been produced both privately and officially.

Logo Decorative initials or drawings which are the trademark for the postcard publisher.

Logo block The section at the bottom right-hand side of a sheet of stamps that contains the NZ Post logo.

London prints Postage stamps printed in London from plates manufactured there.

Loose letter Term used to denote a letter arriving at an office of delivery or transit without cancellation or postmark of origin.

Love stamps Postage stamps issued for use on greetings cards on St Valentine’s Day.

Lozenge An alternative plain and lined diamond-shaped design surrounded the name INVICTA in a watermark used in 1872 for the 2d full face. See also ‘Invicta”.

LQM Linear quality mark: rear marking on mail processed by IMP

LRD Last recorded date of use. See also “Last day cover”.

Luchtpost (Dutch) Airmail.

Luftfeldpost (German) Military airmail

Luftpost (German) Airmail

Lugpos (Afrikaans) Airmail

Luminescence The glow emitted by a stamp when put under ultraviolet light.

Luminosity The brightness of the hue. See also “Colour”

Lustre Force cCode name for New Zealand forces in Greece and Italy during WW2.


Machin The name given to a well-known series of British definitive stamps first issued in 1967. The design of the stamp depicts a plaster portrait of Queen Elizabeth II created by artist Arnold Machin.

Machine cancellation A cancellation applied by means of a machine, hand, foot or electrically powered.

Machine label Postage stamp produced by a micro-processor machine after insertion of coins of the required value, popularly known as Frama stamps.

Madam Joseph Pseudonym for a forger of cancellations struck on genuine unused postage stamps of the British Commonwealth.

Magnifier A magnifying glass for the close examination of stamps.

Mail Early block US marginal marking block with the selvage bearing the inscription “Mail Early (in the Day)”. This first appeared on US marginal selvage in 1968. It was subsequently replaced by the copyright notice. ME blocks typically consist of four or six stamps.

Mail index letter or number A letter or number inserted in a date-stamp to indicate the period of the day during which an article is dealt with in a post office.  The letter or number is changed after the closing of a mail and in readiness for the next.

Mailcoach Horse drawn coaches used for the transport of mail.

Mailomat A system of automatic stamps used in USA and Canada using Pitney Bowes postage meters adapted for use as coin-operated machines.

Mailsort was a five-digit address-coding scheme used by Royal Mail and its business customers for the automatic direction of mail until 2012. Mail users who could present mail sorted by Mailsort code and in sufficient quantities received a discounted postal rate.

Major varieties Variations of importance either in type, colour, design or format from the basic design.

Make-ready see “Découpage

Makeshift booklets US stamp booklets manufactured using stamps normally issued in individual panes, packaged in generic blue card In times of paper shortage, many countries have printed stamps on paper normally used for other purposes e.g. Latvia – cigarette paper, war maps or banknote paper.

Maltese Cross A cross of eight points, formed of four triangles with their top points meeting in the centre and their bases indented. Also used to describe the obliterating device used in Great Britain to cancel early adhesive stamps in the period 1840-44 and thence the cancellation so marked.

Mandatory stamp See “postal tax stamp”.

Manilla paper A coarse strong paper of light texture originally manufactured from manila hemp.

Manuscript cancellation A cancellation by the use of a pen or pencil.

Manuscript overprint Handwriting applied to a stamps face to denote some special use or particular value.

Map paper Paper used for Latvia’s first stamps printed on German military maps.

Marcophily Postmark collecting.

Margin 1) The border of a plate and the side border of a cylinder.

Margin 2) The border of a sheet of stamps, synonymous with “Selvedge”.

Margin 3) The border surrounding the design of a stamp. In a pair or block of stamps, the space between designs is referred to as the “gutter”, the outside border being the margin. The collectible grades of stamps are determined by the position of the design in relation to the edge of the stamp as perforated or, in the case of imperforate stamps, as cut from the sheet.

Margin wing The extra unprinted margin

Marginal advertising Announcement of commercial nature printed in the sheet margins.

Marginal guide marks Marks in the margins of sheets of stamps serving as a guide for the printer in perforating and trimming the sheets.

Marginal inscription Inscriptions in sheet margins of stamps which may include printer’s name.

Marianne Figure symbolising France featured on some post war issues.

Marine post office Post office operating on board ships.

MARITIME MAIL Machine cancel introduced in 1943 and used until 1952. Mail taken ashore from naval vessels and during WWII entitled to free postage but not always subsequently.

Master die An original die from which secondary dies etc. are derived in the production of printing plates.

Mat A hard rubber plate used to apply overprints on postage stamps.

Matched pair Two stamps from the same position of a printing plate but printed at different times and in different colours.

Matrix Printing term for a mould which is used to describe the counterpart of a die.

Maximaphily Maximum card collecting.

Maximaphily exhibit An FIP class utilising maximum cards which should conform to the principles of maximum possible concordance between: (a) postage stamp (b) picture of the postcard and (c) cancellation.

Maximum card A picture postcard, a cancel, and a stamp presenting maximum concordance. The stamp is affixed to the picture side of the card and is tied by the cancel. Collectors of maximum cards seek to find or create cards with stamp, cancel and picture in maximum agreement, or concordance. FIP regulations give specific explanatory notes for the postage stamp, picture postcard, cancel and the concordance of subject, place and time. The term should not be applied where the picture side is a complete reproduction of the stamp. However Royal Mail (see PHQ Cards) and other authorities regularly issue postcards with enlarged reproductions of the stamps, and incorrectly describe them as maximum cards.

MB (Moveable Box) A post box on a quayside and aboard packet boats in which mail could be posted up to the last moment when the quayside box was taken aboard. On arrival at the ship’s destination, the contents of the box were processed at the nearest post office and postmarked MB or BM (Boite Mobile). Service was discontinued at the outbreak of the second World War.

MDEC Manual Data Entry Centre

ME block US marginal marking block with the selvage bearing the inscription “Mail Early (in the Day)”. This first appeared on US marginal selvage in 1968. It was subsequently replaced by the copyright notice. ME blocks typically consist of four or six stamps.”

Mechanical A novelty postcard with some moving parts. Include cards with levers or tabs to change part of the displayed image; thumbwheels which when rotated update the display of a calendar or clock; gramophone record postcards; squeakers; etc.

Medallions Name for the stamps of Belgium 1849-50.

Medals The level of achievement by an exhibit at an exhibition is indicated by means of a ‘medal’ award.  The highest level is termed Large Gold and lower levels are in descending order Gold, Large Vermeil, Vermeil, Large Silver, Silver, Silver Bronze and Bronze. Traditionally the ‘medal’ was a cast metal medallion, often coloured or otherwise marked to indicate the level, but they are now more frequently a generic device (not necessarily a medallion) presented as a memento for entering the exhibition.

Medium letter In NZ an envelope no more than 120 x 235 mm, 10 mm thick and, for air mail purposes, no more than 200 g.

MEF Middle East Forces WW2

Mermaid cancel Postmark used in Ireland incorporating a figure as on the prow of a ship.

Merson French key type 1900-27 from the name of the designer Luc-Olivier Merson.

Mesh A characteristic of the texture of machine-made paper which arises from the pattern of the weave of the wire forming the mould.

Message-Face Postcards A message area on the front, picture side of the postcard. These were used during the undivided back era when the address only was allowed on the back.

Metallic ink Ink which leaves a shiny surface when it dries.

Metamorphic Alteration or change. A picture made up of different pictures depending on how you look at it. Example: a face of Napoleon may be composed of nude women.

Meter A machine that prints an impression, known as a meter stamp, indicating the payment of postage.  The machine is metered and records the amounts which are periodically paid to the post office. Meters were authorized by the UPU in 1920. They are used today by volume mailers to cut the cost of franking mail. NZ is one of the few countries in which meter stamps are usually cancelled in the same manner as stamps.  This was done so that, in the event of a complaint by a meter user, there was evidence as to the date of posting.

Meter mark /meter stamp The impression upon metered mail which indicates postage has been paid. The usual components of a meter mark are the country of issue; the date; the postal value; the license number; the meter manufacturer (optional); and, a slogan relating to the user (optional).

Meter tape Strip of gummed paper used for affixing meter stamps to bulky objects.

Metered Mail Mail displaying a meter mark.

MH Mint hinged. See “mint”.

Micromosaic A process to create portraits from hundreds of tiny images.

Micron A unit of measurement of the thickness of paper. One millionth part of a metre.

Microprinting Extremely small letters or numbers added to the designs of selected US stamps as a security feature. In most cases, 8-power magnification or greater is needed to read microprinting.

Microprocessor Equipment capable of microscopic printing.

Mileage marks Postal markings which include the name of a place and a number indicating its distance from a central reference point, usually the capital of the country concerned.

Military Franchise stamps Stamps permitting military forces to send letters etc. free of postage. See also “FM”.

Miller, Truebridge & Reich Commercial partnership which developed and marketed advertising on stamps. See “advertising stamps”

Millésime (French) Numbers recording the year of printing on certain stamps of France.

MILY ADM Abbreviation for “Military Administration”, an overprint on Indian stamps

Mimeograph Similar to Cyclostyle (see also).

Miniature (midget) Novelty cards of the size 3½ x 2¾ in (90 x 70 mm), half the usual postcard size. Produced in the early 1900s. Midget postcards featuring the actresses of the Edwardian era were a popular novelty of that time. There were also Giant postcards, bookmark postcards, panorama, and court size.

Miniature sheet A smaller-than-normal pane of stamps issued smaller than normal and often containing only one stamp or specimen of each denomination in a series. A miniature sheet is usually has marginal markings or text indicating the sheet was issued in conjunction with, or to commemorate, some event. See also “Souvenir sheet”.

Minor varieties Slight variations from the normal stamp, of interest to specialist collectors.

Mint condition Postcard having no writing and not posted. These cards have a “brand new” appearance and do not have corner or edge bumps.

Mint In practice, the term is used to refer to any stamp that appears to be unused, including those without gum, or previously hinged. Unlike other collectibles, a mint stamp may be in poor condition but still be regarded as being in mint state as long as it is apparently unused. Variations of the term mint include: mint never hinged (MNH); mint hinged (MH); mounted mint (MM); mint no gum (MNG); and unmounted mint (UM).

Mint hinged (MH) An unused stamp, normally with full gum (if so issued), which has been hinged.  Removal of the hinge will remove some of the original gum or leave a remnant of the hinge. Also termed mounted mint (MM).

Mint never hinged (MNH) A stamp in the same state as issued by a post office: unused, undamaged and with full original gum (if issued with gum) when it is said to have its ‘original gum’ (O.G.). Over time, handling, light and atmospheric conditions may affect the mint state of stamps. See also “Unused”.

Mint no gum (MNG) The stamp appears to be unused but has no gum. It might have been used but not cancelled, or have been issued without gum.

Mirror image An offset negative or reverse impression.

Mirror print An impression which is a mirror image of the intended stamp design.

Misplaced colour Shift of colour caused by the printing process.

Mission mixture The lowest grade of stamp mixture containing unsorted but primarily common stamps on paper, as purchased from missions or other institutions. See also “Bank mixture”.

Missionaries The first stamps of Hawaii, issued 1851-52.

Mixed franking Term used by collectors to denote covers bearing the stamps of two or more countries.

Mixed perforation These varieties are similar in form to double perforations of line or rotary machines, but the term “mixed” is used to indicate that a machine with a different gauge has been employed for re-perforating. It is, of course, essential that stamps with double perf or with mixed perforations should show both the original row and the new row of perforations. It was the usual practice of the NZ Stamp Printer to gum strips of paper on the backs of the sheets over rows of perforations out of position or defectively executed. The new rows frequently cut through the strips of paper. Sheets of stamps re-perforated by means of a machine of different gauge may give rise to irregular compound varieties as well as mixed perforations. Two sheets of the 1907 pictorial 5/- had mixed perforations on the stamps in the bottom row and irregular compound perforations on stamps in the adjacent row. See also “Compound perforation”.

Mixed postage The franking on a cover bearing the stamps of two or more stamp-issuing entities, properly used.

Mixture A large group of stamps, understood to contain duplication. A mixture is said to be unpicked or picked. A picked mixture may have had stamps removed by a collector or dealer.

MLO Mechanised Letter Office

MM Mounted mint. See “mint”.

MNG Mint no gum. See “mint”.

MNH Mint never hinged. See “mint”.

Mobile PO Savings Bank Specially fitted vans which operated in Wellington and Auckland.  Mail matter was handled and stamps cancelled with distinctive date-stamps.

Mobile Post Office Vehicle, generally in railroad cars, streetcars, trucks or buses equipped for use as a travelling post office.

Modern era For postcards, mid 1970s or later, usually continental size 4 x 6 in (100 x 150mm).

Moiré A pattern of wavy lines simulating watered silk, printed on postage stamps as a security device.

Money letter Letter containing coin or banknotes.

Monster (Dutch) Specimen

Mother die The original engraved die in line engraving.

Mouchon French key type of 1900 named after designer Eugène Louis Mouchon.

Mould Counterparts of a die used for shaping or casting metal to form a printing plate.

Mount A stamp hinge.

Mount Acetate holders, clear on the front and with some sort of adhesive on the back. Collectors use mounts to affix stamps or covers to album or exhibit pages.

Mount Everest Expedition Poster designed to raise funds for the 1924 Everest Expedition.

Mounted mint (MM) Unused stamp showing traces of stamp mounts on reverse. The same as mint hinged (MH).

Mounting Term for sticking a stamp on an album page by means of a hinge.

Mounts Vinyl or plastic holders, clear on the front and with gum on the back. Stamps and philatelic items are placed inside the mounts which are then stuck into an album.

Mourning cover Mourning letters, cards, stationery identified normally by their black border are messengers of grief.

Mourning stamps Special stamps released in mourning for heads of state and other important people.

Moveable Box see “MB”.

MPO Mobile Post Office.

Mrs Simpson facsimiles Facsimiles of letters carried by balloon from Paris during the siege 1870/1 addressed to Mrs Simpson of London and bearing copies of the appropriate stamps and postal markings.

MTT Machine de tri a tasseurs (French) “sheet sorting machine”

Muestra (Spanish) Specimen applied to stamps distributed by the UPU.

Mulready The first letter sheets and envelopes officially issued in Great Britain in 1840 designed by William Mulready with prepaid postage and a pictorial motif.

Mulready caricature The official Mulready cover and envelope was not popular. Private firms printed envelopes and covers in many designs ridiculing the official stationery, resulting in its disuse. The caricatures did not prepay postage and ordinary adhesive stamps had to be affixed.

Multicolour More than two colours.

Multilingual Back A backing that has Post Card written in a variety of languages.

Multilingual postmarks and stamps Postmarks and stamps inscribed in two or more languages.

Multiple An unseparated group of stamps including at least two stamps, but fewer than the number included in a full pane.

Multiple watermark Term used by philatelists to refer to an “All-over watermark”.

Multiview A card with multiple pictures.

Munich pink First printing of Swiss Strubel stamps in 1854

Muster (German) Specimen.

Mute cancellation Obliterations void of any inscription to denote time and place of postings. See also “Dumb cancel”.


Name Band Postcards Modern Chrome postcards with a large band across the postcard announcing the name of a town, state or specified place.

Name Tablet That part of a key type in which the name of the country is inserted.

Napier Perforation Perforations from machines constructed by David Napier & Sons, Lambeth.

National (non-FIP) classes Competitive classes at a National Exhibition which are not “FIP classes”. At National exhibitions any or all of the competitive “FIP classes” are also offered. The National classes do not qualify an exhibit for competition at an International exhibition.

National exhibition An exhibition which is held under the patronage of a National Federation.  Exhibits entered in FIP classes with one or five frames and meet the FIP requirements are “qualifying exhibits” and may be entered in International exhibitions.

Native paper Crude, handmade paper produced locally from native products, as opposed to finer, machine-made paper.

Naval mail Mail from ships of navies of various countries.

Ne pas livrer le dimanche (French) “Do not deliver on Sundays”. See also “Dominical Label”.

Network A security pattern printed on stamp paper usually before the stamp designs are printed.

Never hinged (NH) A stamp without hinge marks. A never-hinged (NH) stamp usually has original gum, but this is not always the case.

New issue service A dealer or issuing authority service that automatically supplies subscribers with new issues of a given country. Dealers may also offer the service for several countries or topics. The issues provided are determined by a prearranged standing order that defines the quantity and types of issues.

New Year Stamps Special stamps to commemorate the New Year.

New Zealand Philatelic Federation Formed on 13 March 1948 as the Federation of New Zealand Philatelic Societies the name was changed to its current form in 1985. The Federation represents affiliated New Zealand philatelic societies, stamp clubs and the NZ Postcard Society.

New Zealand Post Ltd (NZ Post) On 1 April 1987 the New Zealand Post Office (NZPO) was corporatised and its core businesses split into three separate companies – Telecom, Post Bank and New Zealand Post. Each company was set up as a State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) and was expected to operate as a commercial entity

New Zealand Post Office (NZPO) Renamed from former Post & Telegraph Department in 1959. On 1 April 1987 it was corporatised and split into three entities one of which was “New Zealand Post Ltd” (see also).

New Zealand Stamp Dealers’ Association (NZSDA) The association was formed in 1969 as a body of individuals or companies whose principal activity is dealing in philatelic goods (postage stamps and postal history). The NZSDA aims to maintain standards in the industry and members are expected to adhere to a Code of Ethics.

Newspaper stamp Stamp issued specifically for the prepayment of mailing rates for newspapers, periodicals and printed matter. In NZ a ½d stamp with a portrait of Queen Victoria facing to the left and inscribed NEWSPAPER POSTAGE. The die used to produce electrotypes was a woodblock.  The design was also printed on wrappers.

Newspaper Tax Stamps Impressed or adhesive stamps used for the prepayment of tax on newspapers and periodicals.

NF Overprint on Nyasaland stamps for Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Forces in German East Africa 1916-1918.

NH Never hinged.

Nightrider Special overnight parcel delivery service of Royal Mail.

Nippon (Japanese) Japan

No VR See “VR”.

Non Value Indicated (NVI) Stamps Usually aimed to be the standard post rate. This eliminates the need for printing new stamps or overprinting stamps when a new postage rate occurs.

Non-denominated A stamp with no numerical inscription designating the face value. The value of some non-denominated stamps is marked by a designated letter. Others may have a service inscription that indicates the rate the stamp fulfils. Such stamps can be used for the same level of service following a postage rate increase (eg. KiwistampsTM)

Non-value indicator stamp (NVI) A stamp which bears no monetary inscription, but shows the class of postage (1st, 2nd) instead. The term was used by Royal Mail and is now also used by other postal administrations for their equivalent non-denominated stamps. Many countries also adopt a special description for NVI stamps e.g. US ‘Forever’, Canada ‘Permanent’, NZ ‘Kiwi Stamp’.

Novelty Any postcard that deviates in any way from the norm. Postcards with mechanical features; have articles attached to them (e.g. hair, feathers, flowers, glass eyes, bags of salt, metal medallions, paper appliqué, silk or other materials); printed in an unusual size, shape or on strange materials (e.g. timber, celluloid, leather); or, have holes in which fingers can be inserted to make the postcard figures appear to have real arms, legs, or even a nose.

NPAD NZ Post maintains an index of “delivery points” known as the National Postal Address Database.

Number in bars postmark Early form of cancellations.

Numbered /numeral cancellation A cancellation containing a number or a number with a letter as a means of identifying the office of posting..

NZ Government Life Insurance Department Special stamps for this department were used from 2 January 1891 until 1 December 1989 after the department was privatised to become Tower Corporation. They were first introduced because the department refused to pay a charge assessed by the Post Office.

NZ Post “New Zealand Post Ltd”

NZ Post International Mail Centre Incoming items are screened by Customs and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). NZ Post then delivers the item. However, if further information is required, or charges have to be paid, the item will be held and the addressee advised by letter. The letter will usually say the goods are awaiting Customs clearance, and enclose a Customs invoice. When the addressee has responded with the information and/or payment, NZ Post will release the item. Items passed through the centre may have been opened and resealed of have other markings indicating that it has been passed by Customs or MPI.

NZPF “New Zealand Philatelic Federation”

NZPO “New Zealand Post Office”

NZSDA “New Zealand Stamp Dealers’ Association”


OAT abbreviation for Onward Air Transmission. An OAT cachet was applied to the top letter in a tied bundle of 60 letters. Most were applied 1943-1946 at Lindon Post Office – Foreign Section. It enabled air travel of letters beyond London whether paid for or not.

Obligatory tax stamps Stamps issued for the collection of funds for national or philanthropic purposes.  Their use is usually compulsory on all letters on certain days or periods in addition to ordinary postage stamps. See also “postal tax stamp”.

Oblique roulette A type of separation in which the cuts are aslant and parallel. Also known as “Percé en lignes oblique“. See also “roulette”.

Obliteration 1) A cancellation intended solely to deface a stamp-also called a killer.

Obliteration 2) An overprint intended to deface a portion of the design of a stamp, such as the face of a deposed ruler.

Obsolescent Stamps about to go off sale.

Obsolete A stamp no longer available from post offices, although possibly still postally valid.

Occupation stamps Stamps overprinted or specially issued for use in territory occupied by military forces.

OCP Ordinary Coated Paper

OCR Optical Character Recognition

Oddity Oddities are examples that don’t fit in the category of error or freak. Test stamps, for instance, were printed to test dispensing machines. They were never meant for public distribution. There are a couple of other examples, such as stamps on which no design has been printed or where the perforations were made for one format, say for coils (rolls of stamps), but then the stamps were actually used in booklets, so it looks like a mis-perforation but it really isn’t. It’s not a freak; it’s an oddity.

Odontometre Instrument for measuring the number of perforation holes in a length of 2cm. See also “Perforation Gauge”.

OE Office of Exchange

Off paper Used stamps which have been soaked off their backing paper.

Off-centre A stamp design that is not centred in relation to the edges of the stamp. Generally, off-centre stamps are less desirable than stamps more nearly centred in relation to the edges. Stamps that are extremely off-centre may be added to collections as production freaks.

Offices abroad Postal Agency of one country in another. At various times, many nations have maintained post offices in other countries, usually because of the unreliability of the local postal system. In China and the Turkish Empire, especially, many foreign nations maintained their own postal systems as part of their extraterritorial powers. Usually, special stationery and stamps were used by these offices. Most consisted of overprints on the regular issues of the nation maintaining the offices.

Official labels Printed labels provided by Postal Authorities to denote services rendered other than those prepaid by means of postage stamps.

Official Paid Inscription on postmarks, stationery and adhesive labels used by government departments instead of official stamps or handstruck or machine stamps.

Official stamp A stamp intended to indicate the payment of postage of Members of Parliament and Government Departments.

Official Stamp or stationery issued solely for the use of government departments and officials. In many countries such items may be available to collectors in unused condition from the postal authority.

Official stamps Stamps for use on government correspondence. Are either especially printed, overprinted or having perfins with the words OFFICIAL or its equivalent. Stamps overprinted OFFICIAL were first issued on 2 January 1907.  Stamps in a distinctive design and inscribed OFFICIAL were in use from 1 March 1954 until 31March 1965. See also “NZ Government Life Insurance Department” and “OPSO”.

Offset 1) An adaptation of lithography where a cylindrical plate prints on to a rubber cylinder and this print is then transferred or offset on to a sheet of paper.  This method was used for the 9d pictorial from 1936-1941.

Offset 2) If a sheet of paper does not pass through the printing machine, the pressure roller will take up an inked impression from the plate and this will be transferred to the back of the next sheet of stamps printed, the offset print being in reverse.  Good examples are found in the 1898 pictorials.  See also “Set-off”.

Offset lithography Printing process in which the image on the printing plate is not applied directly to the paper but printed first onto a rubber covered cylinder which deposits the image on to the paper.

OG / og Original Gum.

OHMS Abbreviation for On His (or Her) Majesty’s Service. Used in perfins, overprints or franks and postal stationery to indicate Official use in the British Commonwealth.

Oilette A brand name for process used by Raphael Tuck & Sons. This name was used by the company to describe several very different kinds of printing techniques.

Oilfasism A term used by Raphael Tuck & Sons’ for postcards that have “brush strokes” giving the postcard an oil painting look.

Omnibus issue An issue released by several postal entities to celebrate a common theme. Omnibus issues may or may not share a key-type design.

On paper Stamps (usually postally used) that are affixed to portions of original envelope or wrapper. Often used to describe stamps prior to soaking.

On piece A stamp on a portion of the original envelope or wrapper showing all or most of the cancel. Stamps on piece are usually saved that way.

On public service only “OPSO”. See also “Government Department printed frank” and “Official stamps”.

One frame exhibit Where the exhibit is in a discipline of one of the FIP classes, an FIP class; otherwise a National (non-FIP) class. The purpose for One Frame Exhibits has been twofold: (a) to provide for collectors the opportunity to show exhibits on a narrow theme and which are suitable due to their limited subject or limited available material to development in one frame; or, (b) to provide for new exhibitors at club, regional or even national level an easy way to start their exhibiting career. At international exhibitions it is expected that one frame entries would comply with purpose (a)

One-frame exhibition A specialised national exhibition where all entries are of one-frame.

Open exhibit An exhibit in an FIP class. Open Philately seeks to broaden the range of exhibiting and to allow philatelists to include objects from other collecting fields in support of, and in order to develop, an understanding of the philatelic material shown. The philatelic material must be at least 50% of the exhibit.

OPSO Impressed by means of a rubber stamp on NZ stamps and used between 1891 and 1906 by the Post Office on official, on public service only, mail sent overseas.

Opt Overprint

Optical character reader (OCR) An automated mail processing machine that optically scans letter mail, locates the address and translates the address information into a bar code representation of the ZIP+4 delivery point bar code.

OR (French) Origin Rurale “rural origin”. A handstruck mark applied to mail applied to mail handed to a letter carrier in rural areas of France.

Orb watermark Representation of part of the British Regalia showing the globe surmounted by a cross used as a watermark device.

Original A term used to denote a stamp officially issued for postal use as opposed to a reprint.

Original gum The adhesive coating on a mint or unused stamp or envelope flap applied by a postal authority or security printer, usually before the item was issued. Upon request of stamp collectors, postal authorities have at times offered to add gum to items first issued un-gummed. See also “Re-gummed”.

OS overprint or perfin used 1913 to 1930 on Australian states and Commonwealth stamps denoting Official Service

Out of Register One or more colours in printing being out of alignment with the others.

Over Sized The standard postcard size during the Golden Age was 3½ x 5½ in (90 x 140 mm); the standard modern postcard (Continental) size is 4 x 6 in (100 x 150 mm). Any card larger than these sizes is considered oversized.

Overland Mail Term for mail on any route across western Asia.

Overlay Packing substance used in relief printing (letterpress) to ensure that proper pressure is applied to each part of the stamp’s design at the time of printing.

Overnight delivery stamps High value stamps issued in USA to prepay special handling fees on express packets sent overnight. Similar services were often provided in other countries by express mail.

Overprint An inscription printed on the front of a stamp to indicate some special use (e.g. “Official”) or for any purpose other than to alter of confirm the face value (for which see “Surcharge”).

Overseas Dominions essay Printer’s sample stamp produced by De La Rue to solicit orders from prospective customers.

Overseas Mail Branch At Auckland, Wellington Christchurch and Dunedin special branches called ‘foreign mail branch’ or ‘overseas mail branch’ handled mails for despatch beyond NZ. They have used distinctive cancellations. Overseas mail items now arrive at the Auckland-based “NZ Post International Mail Centre”.

OVO Outward Vouching Office: distribution office for designated postcode area.

Oxidation / Oxidized Darkening of the ink on certain stamps caused by contact with air or light. Some inks used to print stamps, especially oranges, may in time turn brown or black. Stamps whose colour was originally red, yellow or orange which have turned deep brown or black due to atmospheric pollution.

OXO postmark One of the obliterators used to cancel British forces mail in the Crimean war (1854-57).


P & T Department See “Post & Telegraph Department”

Packet 1) A pre-sorted selection of all-different stamps, a common and economical way to begin a general collection;

Packet 2) a ship operating on a regular schedule and contracted by a government or post office to carry mail.

Packet letter A letter carried by a ship operating on a regular schedule and carrying mail by contract with a government or a post office. To defray costs the letter rate was higher than the private vessels. Letters were marked “Packet”. See also “Ship Letter”.

PAF Postcode Address File

PAG Pay and Go

Paid postmark A postmark usually applied indicating prepayment of postage in cash rather than by an adhesive.

Pair Two stamps joined horizontally. See also “Vertical pair”.

Pakke-Porto Parcel post stamps issued by Royal Greenland Trading Company.

Palimpsest Re-used Parchment. Material upon which two or more writings are found, one superimposed upon the other. The earlier writing was supposed to be erased but is often visible as well as the more recent.

Palms French Colony key type used in West Africa 1906-1913.

Pane (1) A block of stamps separated by a gutter and comprising part of a sheet (e.g. the sheets of the 1d to 1/- side- faces contained four panes of 60).

Pane (2) The block of stamps in a booklet.

Panel Card A novelty postcard printed onto very thick card, designed to be framed or otherwise displayed by the recipient.

Pantograph Instrument for mechanically copying a flat design on the same or an altered scale.

Paper error Stamps printed on paper of the wrong colour or watermark.

Paper makers watermark A normal watermark incorporating the maker’s name.

Paper The usual material on which stamps are printed. Several varieties exist. See also “Bluish paper”, “Laid paper”, “Wove paper” and “Watermarks”.

Papers De La Rue, Jones, Cowan, Wiggins Teape, Waterlow, Esparto, Coarse, Pirie

Papier maché mould Stereos (see also) are often cast from a mould made of Papier Maché. See also “Flong”.

Papillon de Metz (French) Message carried by balloon from Metz during siege August-October 1870.

Paquebot (French) “packet boat” and an international term for mail posted on board ship. Cancellation indicating an item was mailed aboard a ship.

Par Avion (French) “By Air”. It appears on airmail etiquettes of most countries, along with a similar phrase in the predominant language of the country of origin.

Par ballon monté (French) By manned balloon.

Par ballon non monté (French) By unmanned balloon.

Parachute mail A form of airmail in which mail is delivered by parachute from an aeroplane.

Paraph A flourish of a signature or the contraction of a signature see overprinted stamps of Cuba used in Puerto Rico 1873-76.

Parcel label Adhesive label issued to every GB Post Office in 1883 to affix to parcels, used until 1918.

Parcel post stamps Special stamps created for payment of parcel post fees.

Parcel postmark A postal marking used for parcel post.

Parcel stamps Adhesives used for the prepayment of parcel postage.

Parcelforce Name of Royal Mail parcel service.

Parliamentary envelopes Pre-printed stationery that could only be bought and posted by Members of Parliament from 16 January 1840 following the abolition of franking of letters by Members from 10 January. This ceased once adhesives were issued on 6 May 1840

Part perforation A stamp where the perforation is incomplete.

Part-perforate A stamp with all perforations missing on one or more sides, but with at least one side perforated.

Paste-up The ends of rolls of coiled stamps joined together with glue or tape.

Patriotic cover Pictorial covers with a patriotic theme used in wartime to raise morale.

PD A handstamp applied to covers indicating postage has been paid to destination.

Peace & Commerce French and Colonial key type introduced in 1876.

Peace & Navigation French Colonial key type adopted in 1892.

Pearls Design feature consisting of solid or outlined circles.

Pebbled Paper Slightly textured embossing giving the paper an egg shell appearance.

Peel and Stick Australian terminology for self-adhesive.

Pelure paper (French) “skin” or “peel”. Pelure paper is thin, often brittle, semi-transparent paper and can be either woven or laid and is rendered semi-transparent by the resins used in the manufacturing of the paper. Stamps printed on pelure paper sometimes do not survive wholly intact because of their brittle nature. Pelure is easily identified because of its transparency. Sometimes this paper is compared to onionskin paper. In NZ used by Davies for supply of some FFQ in 1863.

Pen cancelled Stamps cancelled with an ink pen or marker pen rather than a handstamp or machine cancel. Many early stamps were routinely cancelled by pen. A pen cancel may also indicate that a stamp was used as a fiscal. Modern stamps may be pen cancelled if a sorting clerk or delivery carrier notices a stamp has been missed by a cancelling machine.

Penalty stationery and stamps Stationery or stamps intended for use on official correspondence in the US with a warning printed on the envelope or stamps that improper use may incur a penalty.

Pennants Popular location type card with add on pennant flag usually made of felt.

Penny Black The black 1-penny British stamp issued 6 May 1840, bearing the portrait of Queen Victoria. It is the world’s first adhesive stamp issued for the prepayment of postage.

Penny Dominion A stamp adapted from the “Penny Universal” with the words “DOMINION OF” added at the top. First issued  over a period from 1909 to 1926.

Penny post A postal service delivering letters within a limited area for a penny.

Penny red 1d stamps of Great Britain successors to the Penny Black.

Penny Universal A stamp bearing a symbolic figure, often called “Zealandia” was issued on 1 January 1901 to commemorate the adoption by New Zealand of the universal penny postage.  It became established as the definitive issues the 1d value. See also Penny “Dominion”.

Percé (French) Pierced

Percé en arc (French) Arc pierced.

Percé en lignes (French) Line pierced.

Percé en lignes de couleur (French) Line pierced in colour.

Percé en lignes obliques (French) Pierce in oblique lines.

Percé en losanges (French) Lozenge pierced.

Percé en pointes (French) Zig-Zag pierced.

Percé en points (French) Pin Pierced or perforated

Percé en scie (French) Saw toothed pierced.

Percé en serpentine (French) Pierced in wavy lines.

Perçue (French) paid

Percussion à froid (French) Method of striking dies and punches in cold metal.

Perfins Derived from PERforated INitialS, perfins are stamps with perforations through the face of identifying initials, designs or holes in coded positions. Normally used by a business or government office to discourage pilferage or misuse of stamps by employees, perfins may be either privately or officially produced. (also known as ‘SPIFS’ meaning “Stamps Perforated for Individuals or Firms”) (compare also with “Precancels”)

Perforation A series of holes cut in the paper to facilitate separation of stamps.  The gauge of the perforations is determined by the number of holes in a distance of 2cm.  All types of perforation machines consist of a punching part and a cutting part. For types of perforations see “Blind perforation”, “Comb perforation”, Double comb”, “Triple comb”, Compound perforation”, “Double perforations”, Imperf variety”, Imperf between”, “Imperf horizontally or vertically”, “Imperf on three sides”, “Line perforation”, “Mixed perforation”, ”Rotary perforation” and “Triple perforation”. See also “Chad”.

Perforation gauge A scale printed or designed on metal, transparent or opaque plastic, cardboard or other material to measure the number of perforation holes or teeth within the space of 2 cm. One gauge was invented by J A Legrand who gave it the name “Odontométre”.

Perkins Bacon process The method of producing line engraved plates invented by Jacob Perkins.

Perkins paper An azure safety paper invented by Dr Perkins and used on the 1855-6 and other GB issues.

Perkins process Jacob Perkins invented the process of transferring an impression from an engraving on a flat steel plate to a steel roller to lay down the requisite number of impressions of a flat metal plate.

Perkins, Bacon & Co Ltd Played an important part in the production of NZ stamps. They supplied the plates for the FFQs and printed the first supplies of the 1d, 2d and 1/- values.  Then in 1908 they applied the Perkins process to the production of a relief-engraved plate.

Permit Franking by the imprint of a number and additional information that identifies a mailer’s prepaid postage account, thereby eliminating the need to affix and cancel stamps on large mailings. The mailer must obtain a document (permit) that authorizes his use of this procedure.

Permit mailing The authorised posting of mail without adhesive stamps.

Personal delivery stamps Stamps issued to ensure that mail was delivered to the addressee only.

Personalised stamp A stamp, with or without an adjoining label, on which, for a fee, an image or text of the purchaser’s choosing may be placed. Personalised stamp sheets (or P-Stamps) were first issued by Australia Post in 1999. However, the stamps vary from country to country. While some are normal stamps with a personalised label on the left attached by perforations, elsewhere the stamps are more properly regarded as one-piece personalised meter stamps with a colourful design next to the indicia.

Personalised stamp sheets were first issued by NZ Post in 2005. The stamps in the sheet are normal stamps with an adjacent label attached by perforations on which, for a fee, an image or text of the purchaser’s choosing may be placed.

PF (French) Payée à Frontier. Postage prepaid to the frontier of a country.

Phantasy A bogus stamp.

Phantom philately The collection of bogus stamps. The name is derived from Frederick Melville’s book Phantom Philately, one of the pioneer works on bogus issues.

Philatelic Agencies Commercial organisations which handle the philatelic sales and publicity of a country’s stamps.

Philatelic Bureau Agency which handles the sale of philatelic items.

Philatelic Congress of Great Britain Initiated at Manchester in 1909 and comprises of an affiliation of Philatelic Societies throughout Great Britain.

Philatelic cover An envelope, postal card or other item franked and mailed by a stamp collector to create a collectible object. It may or may not have carried a personal or business message. A non-philatelic cover is usually one that has carried business or personal correspondence and has had its stamps applied by a non-collector. Some stamps are known only on collector-created covers. It is impossible to say whether some covers are philatelically inspired or not. See also “Used” and “Postally used”.

Philatelic document Document giving details of a stamp with a space for the stamp itself (see Document Philatelique Officiel).

Philatelic exhibition Stamp show open to the public sponsored by stamps clubs, dealers or the postal authorities.

Philatelic handling labels Labels provided by some postal authorities for collectors to affix to covers to obtain careful handling.

Philatelic Literature exhibition An exhibition comprised of philatelic literature entries.  Such an exhibition may be completely stand-alone or operate in association with a philatelic exhibition.

Philatelic literature Philatelic literature is held by stamp collectors and dealers, philatelic societies, and general and specialist libraries. Philatelic literature is generally divided into the following categories:  stamp catalogues; periodicals (journals and society newsletters); auction catalogues; books; bibliographies of philatelic literature; and, background material (non-philatelic material useful to stamp collectors e.g. currency exchange rates, maps, newspapers, etc.). The material may be in hard copy or electronic media. Philately is believed to produce more books, journals and periodicals than any other.

Philatelic Youth Council of New Zealand “PYC”. The Council’s mission is to promote youth philately throughout New Zealand and to encourage youth stamp collecting and exhibiting in general.

Philatelic-numismatic combination A cover bearing a stamp and containing a coin, medal or token. The coin and stamp are usually related in such cases; often the cover is cancelled on the first day of use of the coin.

Philatelist A student of postage stamps.

Philately The collection and study of postage stamps, postal stationery and postal history.

Phonopost Or “Fonopost” was an experimental postal service in Argentina to record a person’s voice and deliver the resulting recording by mail. The service was demonstrated at the Postal Union Congress in Buenos Aires in 1939 and approved by the UPU. Argentina issued three stamps to mail the records. Special mobile recording vans were used to make the recordings which used 8 in, 78rpm acetate gramophone records. As a service approved by the UPU other countries used similar services. The approved status of Phonopost was removed at the Tokyo UPU congress in 1969.

Phosphor A chemical substance used to overprint, ink or impregnate stamps in their production to activate machines that automatically cancel mail. The machines react to the phosphor under ultraviolet light. In 1959, Great Britain began to print phosphor lines on some of its stamps. See also “Tagging”.

Phosphor dots and bars Patterns of dots or bars produced by phosphorescent substances applied to mail to translate the postcode from an alpha numeric sequence to a medium which can be read by sorting machines.

Phosphor graphite Stamps of Great Britain issued in 1959 with graphite lines on back and phosphor lines (see also) on the front.

Phosphor Lines Bands of phosphorescent material printed on the face of stamps to activate letter facing and cancelling machines and sort into first and second class.

Photochrom German word for colour photo this term refers to a lithographic method of converting black and white photographs into colour lithographs. The Detroit Publishing Company held the exclusive North American rights to this process.

Photographic Cards Coming into their own recognition as art cards are the fantastic photographic art cards. These real photo art studies of beautiful women, children, lovers, etc., are often hand tinted in great detail and in colours which almost defy description. Also made popular were the photomontage techniques which allow photos to be altered into original art creations.

Photogravure An intaglio printing process that is a form of intaglio printing. Plates are made photographically and chemically, rather than by hand engraving a die and transferring it to a plate. The ink in this process rests in the design depressions. The surface of the printing plate is wiped clean. The paper is forced into the depressions and picks up the ink, in a manner much like the line-engraved printing process.

Photolithography A process of multiplying a design by repeated photographic exposure.

PHQ Cards Postcards reproducing postage stamps produced by Royal Mail since 1973.

Pictorial date stamp postcards A special postcard introduced in 1976 for subscribers to the post office’s pictorial date-stamp service. This service, for a fee, enabled subscribers to obtain each pictorial date stamp used at special post offices or used to mark commemorative occasions. A range of card designs and indicia have been used.

Pictorial Stamp bearing a picture of some sort, other than a portrait or coat of arms.

Pictorial postmarks Hand struck marks and machine cancels which include a pictorial element.

Pigeon post Messages carried by pigeon, often on flimsies or in the form of microfilm. Examples include 1870 – 1872 Franco-Prussian war during the siege of Paris and in New Zealand the Great Barrier Pigeongram Service.

Pigment Colouring matter in printing ink.

Pillar box A type of free-standing post box. First used in 1852 and generally painted red, the red pillar box is a British cultural icon.

Pillars Narrow lined rectangles forming a type of ornamentation in the pane gutters on a stamp sheet.

Pin perforation (French Percé en points) Type of stamp separation applied by piercing the paper with sharp pointed pins.

Pin roulette Holes are pricked in the paper. Sometimes erroneously termed a pin-perforation. See “roulette”

Pioneers Postcards issued before the Act of Congress in 1898 which removed the US Postal Service monopoly to produce postcards.. They carry instructions on the back, such as, “Write the address only on this side – the message on the other”, “Nothing but address can be placed on this side” or “This side for address only”.

PIP Pricing in Proportion

Pirie paper see Alex Pirie & Co Ltd.

Planographic A printing process that includes “lithography” and “offset”.

Planography Printing from a smooth surface that is neither raised nor recessed.

Plate The printing base most commonly used in the production of stamps. It may be made of steel, copper, zinc or alloys such as type metal. Many plates have been protected by a coating of nickel of chrome. Early stamps were printed from flat plates while curved or cylindrical plates are now generally used. See also “Cylinder” and “Sleeve”.

Plate marking A figure, letter or combination of the two used to identify a plate.  Also the printer’s imprint, registration marks and arrows, etc., printed on the selvedge of the sheet.  See also “T-mark”.

Plate number coils (PNC) 1) A plate number coil stamp; that is, a stamp from a coil that is inscribed with a plate number. The abbreviations PNC3 and PNC5 identify strips of three or five coil stamps with the PNC located in the centre position of the strip.

Plate number Numerals or an alphanumeric combination that identifies the printing plate used to print postage stamp images. See “Plate marking”.

Plate number/imprint block Commonly the bottom left-hand corner of a sheet of stamps containing the plate number, name of the printer, designer and sometimes other information. For example, the block may also include the colour bars used by the printer during the printing process. Some stamp production methods, like booklet production, normally cut off plate numbers. In the US, plate number blocks are collected normally as blocks of four to 20 stamps, depending on the press used to print the stamps. When each stamp in a pane is a different design, the entire pane is collected as the plate block. See “Plate marking”.

Plate proof The trial impressions from the printing plate before the actual issue. Usually they are un-gummed and printed on card. See “Proof”.

Plate varieties A kind of minor variety due to imperfections in a printing plate, producing one or several stamps that are different from the rest in their sheet. Also called constant varieties, they were not too rare when stamps were printed with the engraving (a.k.a. Intaglio) method. One way to hunt for plate varieties involves inspecting several full sheets of the same stamp, searching for marks present in some, but not all, of the specimens, that repeat exactly in the same positions in the rest of the sheets, or at least in some of them.

Plating The reconstruction of a stamp pane by collecting blocks and individual stamps representing various positions. This is possible for many older issues, but most modern issues are too uniform to make the identification of individual positions possible. See also “Reconstruction”.

Platinum Print Invented in the 1870s it was used for its fine detail and soft grey tones. This process uses a combination of platinum and iron salts for printing. Many early 20th century artists’ works were done using this process and is also found in photography. By the 1930s this process fell out of favour and even prints during its prime period of use are hard to find.

Plebiscite issue Stamps issued by temporary independent postal authorities in towns and districts while their future nationality is determined. After World War I, a number of disputed areas were placed under temporary League of Nations administration, pending plebiscites to determine which nation the populace wished to join. Special issues note the upcoming vote in several of these areas; among them, Allenstein, Carinthia, Eastern Silesia, Marienwerder, Schleswig and Upper Silesia.

Plis confliés (French) “Entrusted mail” from the Siege of Paris and airborne mail from the besieged Metz and Belfort.

Plis confliés (French) “Entrusted mail” from the Siege of Paris and airborne mail from the besieged Metz and Belfort.

Plug Part of a printing plate plugged into the main design.

Pmk Abbreviation for postmark (see also)

PNC Plate number coil or Philatelic-numismatic combination

Pneumatic post Letter distribution through pressurized air tubes. Pneumatic posts existed in many large cities in Europe, and special stamps and stationery were often produced for the service.

Poached egg Name for labels used officially for testing British automatic vending machines in 1936/37.

Pochette (French) “wallet”. Small transparent envelope used for containing a stamp.

Polar exhibit An exhibit in a National (non-FIP) class which covers the full spectrum of philatelic activity applied specifically to northern (Arctic & Sub-Arctic) and southern (Antarctic & Sub-Antarctic) polar geographic regions.

Polar exhibit An exhibit in a National (non-FIP) class which covers the full spectrum of philatelic activity applied specifically to northern (Arctic & Sub-Arctic) and southern (Antarctic & Sub-Antarctic) polar geographic regions.

Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) Polymers derived from vinyl chloride used to make plastic pages and sleeves. These can cause damage to postcards over time.

Polyvinyl Alcohol gum (PVA) Adhesive substance which is invisible and non-curling used on many stamps from 1960s.

Portals One of the paper mills controlled by Wiggins, Teape & Alex Pirie Ltd.

Porte timbre (French) Label that contains a box within the design for the regular postage stamp.

Porto Postage.

Positional block Block showing a variety known to occur on a particular stamp in the sheet.

Post & Telegraph Department In 1881 the merger of the Electric Telegraphs Department with the Post Office Department created the New Zealand Post and Telegraph Department. In 1959 became the “New Zealand Post Office (NZPO)” (see also).

Post and Telegraph Department (Stores Branch) frank free postage “Government Department printed frank” (see also). A design used from 1894 but possibly earlier until at least 1904.

Post box Includes a pillar box (see also), are generally free standing and people insert mail for posting. The mail is picked up at intervals by a postal or courier service for delivery to the nearest mail sorting centre. At Post Offices the post box is often incorporated into the building design and mail posted is cleared by the postal staff.

Post bus Mail Bus

Post Office box Usually abbreviated to PO Box followed by an identifying number. Mail can be addressed to the PO Box which usually located at a post office or mail sorting centre. The mail delivered to the box is picked up by the addressee.

Post Office Department The Local Posts Act 1856 gave provincial councils the authority to create their own mail services and local post offices, while the Government continued to maintain the overland trunk postal routes and the head Post Office in each province. The Post Office Act 1858 repealed the Local Posts Act and established the Post Office as a separate government department reporting to the Postmaster General. In 1881 it was merged with the Electric Telegraphs Department to become the “Post & Telegraph Department” (see also).

Post office In New Zealand the generic term used to cover ”Post Office Department” (1858-1881), “Post & Telegraph Department” (1881-1959), “New Zealand Post Office” (1959-1987) and “New Zealand Post” (1987- ) and the individual offices during their administration.

Post Office Mauritius The 1d & 2d stamps of Mauritius issued in 1847. the stamps are so called because they are inscribed “Post Office”

Post Office Place for reception of mail for delivery to addressees.

Post Offices Abroad Post Offices staffed and operated by one country located in another country.

Post Road Public highway whose use is authorised by law.

Post-a-book A service of the British Post Office operated through book shops as a convenient way of sending books through the post.

Postafix machine a hand-held automatic postage stamp applier.

Postafix provisonals These were specially created in Nz to fill the need for 7c and 8c stamps for use in ‘Postafix machines. The 7c and 8c roses, the current definitives in these values were too large. The 7c and 8c fish were not available so surplus remainders of the 3c and 4c were used and surcharged ‘7c’ and ‘8c’. These were prepared in full rolls of 400 stamps.

Postage due The amount to be collected from the addressee of a postal article of which postage has been unpaid or insufficiently pre-paid. Distinctive stamps to indicate the payment of postage due were on issue in NZ from 1 December 1899 to 30 September 1951.

Postage dues Stamps, labels or markings indicating that insufficient postage has been affixed to the mailing piece and showing the amount to be paid on un- or under-franked letters. Postage dues are usually affixed at the office of delivery. The additional postage is collected from the addressee.

Postage Paid impressions Hand struck marks applied to bulk postings of mail prepaid in cash.

Postage Stamp A label, usually gummed, indicating the amount of money prepaid for postage.

Postage Stamps of New Zealand A series of handbooks produced by the Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand which form the standard reference for New Zealand philately. Volume I was issued 1939 and its latest, Volume X, in 2013.

Postal AuthoritiesThose national authorities that are appointed by their national government to be responsible for the movement of mail within their respective country and are usually instructed to co-operate with the UPU for the distribution of international mails.

Postal card A government-produced postcard bearing a stamp imprint in the upper-right corner representing prepayment of postage.

Postal concessionary label Label sold through the NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes) for use of British servicemen in Egypt.

Postal fiscal A stamp inscribed “Stamp Duty” and available for postal use or used postally.

Postal forgery A counterfeit stamp prepared to defraud the postal authorities.

Postal frank Term used to denote accountancy labels prepared by the British Vice Consul in Madagascar.

Postal historian A student of the operation and development of postal services.

Postal History 2A exhibit An exhibit in an FIP sub-class which contains material carried by, and related to, official, local or private mails. Such exhibits generally emphasize routes, rates, markings, usages and other postal aspects, services, functions and activities related to the history of the development of Postal Service cf. Marcophily (Postal History 2B) and Historical, social and special studies (Postal History 2C).

Postal History 2B exhibit Marcophily (Postmarks) An exhibit in an FIP sub-class which shows classifications and/or studies of postal markings related to official, local or private mails on covers, adhesive stamps and other postal items

Postal History 2C exhibits An exhibit in an FIP sub-class which examines postal history in the broader sense and the interaction of commerce and society with the postal system.

Postal History exhibits Postal History exhibits are classified under three sub-classes “Postal History 2A”, “Postal History 2B” and “Postal History 2C”.

Postal history The study of postal markings, rates and routes, or anything to do with the history of the posts.

Postal label An adhesive label made available or used by the Post Office on mail matter such as registered, insured, fragile, express delivery, unsealed articles and letter packets.  See also “Etiquette”

Postal marking A marking applied by the post office to a postal article.

Postal mechanisation Aspects of mail automation and mechanisation of the posts, including postal markings, sorting equipment, barcode labels and meter franking.

Postal operator An entity which provides postal services in a country. See also “designated postal operator”.

Postal Stationery exhibit An exhibit in an FIP class which should comprise a logical and coherent assembly of postal matter which either bears an officially authorised pre-printed stamp or device or inscription indicating that a specific face value rate of postage has been pre-paid

Postal stationery Stationery bearing imprinted stamps, as opposed to adhesive stamps. Postal stationery includes postal cards, lettercards, stamped envelopes, wrappers, aerograms, telegraph cards, postal savings forms and similar government-produced items. The cost to the mailer is often the price of postage plus an additional charge for the stationery item.

Postal strike Industrial action by postal workers causing disruption to postal services e.g. US March 1970 and the UK January-March 1971 (coinciding with the introduction of decimal currency) and August – September 1988.

Postal surcharge Overprint on stamps used for accounting purposes and were not valid for postage (occurs on Cyprus stamps).

Postal tax stamp A stamp which raises revenue for charity or war related projects. Postal tax stamps are similar to semi-postals, except their use is mandatory instead of voluntary. They are used to show payment of a compulsory tax on mailing letters and parcels.

Postal Telegraphs Stamps originally issued for use on telegrams.

Postally used A stamp, postcard or cover that has seen legitimate postal use, as opposed to one that has been cancelled-to-order or cancelled by favour. The term “postally used” suggests an item exists because it was used to carry a personal or business communication without the sender thinking of creating an item to be collected.”

Postbus ticket The Postbus services operating in the UK since 1967 use distinctive tickets with the value indicated by means of adhesive stamps (see also).

Postcard 1)Printed by a Government department or a private company where the stamp has to be affixed.

Postcard 2)A small card, usually with a picture on one side and a space for a written message on the other. Postcards have no imprinted stamp, so the mailer must also purchase postage to mail the postcard. Compare with “Postal card”.

Postcard backed For a postcard to be considered a postcard it must have a postcard back which includes traditional features such as a stamp box, back label, divided back line or information which indicates the address area.

Postcard blanks Where one side is blank, to allow for the picture to be printed or photographically imaged.

Postcard stamp Postage stamps specially prepared for prepaying postage on postcards.

Postcard stock Material from which a postcard is made, can include card stock, leather, wood or cloth.

Postcode A group of numbers or a combination of letters and numbers devised to translate an address into a code which can be used for automatic sorting.

Poste restante (French) ‘Remainder post”.  A service where the Post Office holds the mail until the recipient calls in for it.  Items are postmarked ‘Post Restante’.

Posted on board Persons on board ship are entitled to send mail prepaid by means of stamps of the country in which the ship is registered.

Poster stamps Term used to describe labels, resembling miniature posters, often perforated to advertise tourist attractions, special events and company products, but with no postal validity.

Posthorns Nickname for the definitive issues of Norway since 1872.

Postmark Any official postal marking. The term is usually used specifically to marks applied in manuscript, handstamp or machine to mail to indicate the place and time of posting. See also “cancellation”.

Postmasters’ stamps Issues made by postmasters usually during an emergency to prepay postage on local mail.

Postnote Type of Postal Stationery introduced in 1982 by British Post office.

Pre-adhesive A piece of mail posted before the advent of postage stamps.

Pre-cancel / Precancelled Stamps issued by the post office, generally sold in quantity to business firms with permits to use them, with cancellations already applied allowing them to bypass normal cancelling. In some cases the pre-cancel also designates a specific mail-handling service, such as “Pre-sorted First-Class” while others may include the city and state of the issuing post office. See also ‘Service inscribed’.

Pre-Linen Cards that were printed on matte or heavy paper stock through the 1930s.

Premier’s Office frank free postage “Government Department printed frank” (see also). A design known used in 1901.

Pre-paid ticket NZ Post provided a tracked, across town service for parcels paid for with ticket sold in packs of 10.

Presentation pack A collection of stamps from a particular issue or series, attractively laid out and mounted within the pack. Presentation packs also include background information on the stamps they display.

Presentation sets With the authority of the Postmasters-General, representative collections of NZ stamps have been presented to distinguished people or to museums.  Some stamps included in these sets had obliterations in the form of the segment of a circle or parallel lines on a corner or down the middle. Others had the rubber stamp impression “Specimen”.

Pre-sort stamp A discounted stamp used by business mailers who pre-sort their mail.

Pre-sorted mail Mail sent to the Post Office already sorted which attracts a reduced rate of postage.

Press sheet A complete unit of stamps, miniature sheets or booklet panes as printed. Stamps, booklet panes and miniature sheets are usually printed in large sheets and are separated into two or more panes before shipment to post offices or, in the case of booklet panes, inserted into booklets.

Pressure sensitive stamps See “Self-adhesive stamp”

Pre-stamp cover Covers dating from before the introduction of adhesive postage stamps.

Pre-stamp covers Folded letters or their outer enclosures used before the introduction of adhesive postage stamps or postal stationery.

Pre-stamped envelope (PSE) postal stationery.

Prestige booklet A stamp booklet with oversized panes, descriptive information and stamp issues commemorating a special topic. Prestige booklets often include panes with no stamps that instead bear labels or additional information, along with panes bearing stamps. New Zealand produced its first Prestige booklet on 24 January 1996. Combinations of some stamp designs, some perforations and the miniature sheets are unique to these booklets.

Prexies The nickname for the US 1938-54 Presidential definitive series.

Primitives Term for early locally produced stamps whose designs were crudely executed.

Printed A method used to enable mass production of what was originally a photographic image by splitting the original into dots and transferring it to a printing plate. The main methods for achieving this are letterpress halftone and collotype. The quality of the resulting postcards varies quite considerably.

Printed matter Circulars, samples and other forms of commercial paper.

Printed on both sides Stamps with complete impressions on both sides of the paper front and back.

Printed Photo A postcard of photographic origin but produced in volume via a printing process and lacking the definition and finish of real photo postcards.

Printed to Private Order See Vol IX

Printed watermark An imitation watermark used as a substitute for security paper during temporary shortages.

Printer’s waste Defective material which should be written-off and destroyed.,  There have been instances where this type of material has been missed in the inspection at the printing works and has passed over post office counters.  When a fault is obvious it is usual for the printer to indicate this but it does not ensure the material will not be issued.  Sheets with rubber-stamp inscription WASRTE in large letters have been acquired by collectors.

Printer’s imprint Printer’s name appearing as part of the stamp design or on the sheet selvage.

Printex Printing process patented by Motley & Miller of England applying photography to letterpress.

Printing Production run of stamps usually employing one of the four most common methods: line-engraving (a.k.a. intaglio or recess-printing), lithography (usually offset photo-lithography), photogravue and typography (letterpress; usually photo-engraving).

Printing-Out Paper A commercially manufactured paper that was quite popular in the 1880s and 1890s and continued to be produced until the 1920s. Coated with silver-chloride emulsions and designed to develop a print from a negative by using light alone, rather than chemistry. This process was favoured by early photographers as field prints could be produced to review their work without the need of a darkroom.

Priority labels Labels mainly used to denote first class and airmail services.

Prisoner of War Air Mail Inscribed on a special letter sheet was used by during WWII Allied PoW communications through the Red Cross in English and German or Japanese with a 2½d indicia. Also used for East Africa PoW Internees Camps after the September 1943 Italian Armistice. Postage paid 1s 30c for airmail.

Prisoner of War mail Correspondence to or from prisoners of war.

Private controls Inscriptions overprinted or on reverse of stamps by organisations to prevent theft.

Private Mailing Card In the US this term was required by law in the 1898 Act of Congress which qualified these cards for the 1 cent rate. The Law was rescinded in 1901 and the new term Post Card was placed on the back.

Private perforation Unofficial perforation applied by private individuals or organisations before perforation methods were generally accepted. Also private roulette.

Private postage stamps Stamps or franks issued to private individuals or organisations as a postal concession on certain mail. Also where, without authority, individuals have produced stamps for events e.g. strikes.

Private postmarks Cancellations permitted in some countries for the use of firms or organisations.

Pro Aero (Switzerland) Inscription on Air Mail Stamps.

Pro Juventute (Latin) “for the benefit of youth”. Switzerland has issued Pro Juventute charity stamps nearly every year since 1913.

Pro Patria (Latin) “for one’s country”. Swiss stamps issued for national cultural funds.

Process engraving Method of engraving the surface of metal by an acid to produce printing plates.

Processing Steps that finish a printed stamp sheet. Processing includes perforation, trimming, dividing the sheet into individual panes, and packaging for distribution.

Proof A trial impression. It is usual for the engraver to make a series of prints from the die as an indication of the progress of his work. Prints from the finished die are made both before and after it is hardened and it is customary to produce proofs both in black and in colour from the plates and cylinders. In NZ the post office now insists that all proof material must remain in their custody. For nearly 80 years designers, engravers, printers and other privileged people were able to obtain proofs.

Proof Trial impressions from a die or printing plate before actual stamp production. Proofs are made to examine a die or plate for defects or to compare the results of using different inks. Proofs can be divided into four types: die proofs, engraver’s proofs; plate proofs and colour proofs.

Propaganda forgeries Political and propaganda forgery is produced by countries in conflict. Stamps may be issued to deprive the enemy of revenue, to distribute propaganda material, to cause confusion or to depict propaganda messages. Propaganda stamps are very collectable and have been philatelically forged: a forgery of a forgery. Many propaganda stamps would have been difficult to circulate in the postal system because they would have been immediately removed, thus used propaganda stamps are unusual (but easily falsified).

Propaganda leaflets Leaflets bearing propaganda aimed at enemy and enemy occupied countries.

Propaganda Stamps Stamps designed to promote a campaign and get a message across to the public.

Prospectus The document which describes the regulations applying to a specific exhibition. Equivalent to the “IREX” of international exhibitions the term is used mainly for national exhibitions.

Provisional stamps Issued for temporary use to meet postal demands until new or regular stocks of stamps can be obtained. The issue of provisional stamps could arise through a change in name or government, by occupation of foreign territory, by a change in postal rates, by a change of currency, or by the need to provide stamps that otherwise are in short supply.

PTPO Printed to Private Order

PTSA Priced to Sell At. A term used in auctions where stamps in a lot have been previously priced for retail or approval purposes.

Public Trust Office frank and adhesive label free postage “Government Department printed frank” (see also). A design was introduced in 1890 and similar form on an adhesive label.

Publicity postmarks Postmarks produced by post offices to advertise various places or events.

Publisher Usually the person or company who ordered the postcards is considered the publisher. Some companies were also the printer and publisher. Smaller publishers may be local photographers or bookshops.

Pubs (French) Timbres de Publicité “advertising stamps”. Stamps from booklets which have advertising labels attached.

Pullout A style of novelty postcard. The postcard has an attached pouch containing a concertina strip of pull out images. Open the container to extend the strip of miniature images. The better cards present the pouch as an integral part of the design; as a postman’s sack, suitcases or motorcar luggage, as seaside creatures, or as WW1 knapsacks.. The pull out images are usually local views but examples featuring military imagery, cartoons and other childhood images are occasionally to be found.

Punch perforation A form of cancellation where a hole or pattern of holes is punched across a stamp.

Puzzle Postcards These cards can include hidden pictures, jigsaw puzzles, or any card which is a puzzle to solve.

PVA, PVAD Abbreviation for Polyvinyl Alcohol and Polyvinyl Alcohol Dextrin gums on reverse of stamps.

PVC Poly Vinyl Chloride

PYC Philatelic Youth Council of NZ


QDC (Latin) Quem Deus Conservet “Whom God Preserve”. Often found in manuscript below the named ship added to early ship letters (see also) as a talisman.

QEII Queen Elizabeth the Second of Great Britain.

Quadrille paper Paper watermarked with crossed lines forming a pattern of small squares or rectangles.

Quadrillé Term used to describe an album leaf printed with a fine network of squares as a guide for the arrangement of stamps.

Quadripartition A block or strip of four stamps that together complete a single entire design. See US Scott 1448-51, the 1972 Cape Hatteras National Seashore issue.

Quadrisect A stamp divided into four equal parts. See “bisect” and “split stamp”.

Qualifying exhibits Except for literature and Age Group A Youth entries, to participate in an International exhibition the exhibit (whether of one or five frames) must have received a minimum of 75 points (Vermeil) at a national level exhibition within the five years prior to the first application for entry. For literature exhibits no previous award is required but books must have been published within the previous five years and all other entries in the literature class within the previous two years. For Age Group A (10 to 15 years) a national 70 points (Large Silver) must have been received. For more details see Article 10 of the GREX.

Quartz lamp An electric lamp incorporating a filament in transparent fused quartz, emitting ultraviolet rays.

Quatrefoil watermark A compound leaf or flower design with four leaflets or petals radiating from the centre.

Queen enthroned Name for stamps of Victoria 1852 showing a design with Queen Victoria seated on a throne.

QV Queen Victoria.


R Rare

Rack cards Modern advertising postcards distributed free on racks.

Rag Paper High quality long lasting paper with a high content of rag content.

Railway Air Services Airmail service operated by the Railway Companies in Great Britain during 1934.

Railway cancellations Cancellations used to indicate handling on mail vans or travelling post offices and on trains.

Railway company stamps Local or semi-official stamps issued by railway companies mainly to denote fees payable in respect of parcels and in some cases letters.

Railway letter and parcel stamps Stamps produced by railway companies to prepay a special railway letter fee to speed up the handling of letters between railway stations.

Railway Post Office (RPO) Portable mail-handling equipment for sorting mail in transit on trains. The last official US RPO ran June 30, 1977. RPOs were used in many countries. See also “Mobile post office”.

Railway Travelling Post Office (RTPO) An office in a special van attached to an express train. Mail was sorted and, where necessary, delivered to or received from places en route.

Rainbow trials Impressions of the Penny Black produced in a number of different colours during 1840. This was to test various combinations of coloured inks, papers and cancellations.

Rapid cancelling machine Machine for high speed cancelling of mail.  For example, the International Postal Supply Co of New York machine used by the Canada Post Office Department.

Rayon (French) “radius”. Denotes the distance of a place from a central point and used in European postal tariffs.

RDP see “Roll of Distinguished Philatelists”

Readers Digest coils Multi value strips of stamps were produced by the British Post Office on behalf of Readers Digest to facilitate reply postage.

Ready to Go envelopes

Real Photo Postcard (RPPC) or Real Photographic / Photo (RP) Term coined to distinguish between commercially printed photographic images and an actual photograph printed on photograph paper with a pre-printed postcard back. ‘Real photo’ cards may be more desirable than commercially printed postcards because of the image quality. Many real photos may be private images produced by local photographers in very small quantities, sometimes singly, sometimes with a small number of copies. Larger companies also produced real photo postcards in some volume, perhaps using a mechanical device such as a Grabner machine. The difference between real photo postcards and printed photo postcards is apparent under magnification.

Rebus A puzzle postcard on which words, phrases, or sentences are represented by pictures of objects and signs, the names of which, when sounded in sequence afford the solution.

Receipted parcels A parcel service operated by the British Post Office similar to Recorded Delivery (see also).

Receiving mark A postmark or other postal marking applied by the receiving, rather than the originating, post office. See also “Backstamp”.

Recess print The process of printing from a plate in which the reproductions of the design are recess into metal.  Line-engraving and photogravure are types of recessed engraving but it is usual to use the term recess-print for stamps printed from plates where the impressions of the design have been laid down by means of a transfer roller produced from a die with engraved dots as well as lines.

Reconstruction Reconstruction of sheets or blocks of stamps from singles or multiples which vary in some degree throughout the sheet or block. See also “plating”.

Recorded delivery A delivery service in which the sender receives a certificate that a letter or parcel has been posted and a signature is obtained from the recipient as a record that it has been delivered. Often, for an additional fee, items are computer tracked and scanned at the item’s final destination.

Recorded message stamps Stamps issued by Argentina in 1939 to prepay the fees on messages recorded on discs for transmission by post.

Re-cut die When a die has been extensively retouched (see also) it is normally termed re-cut.

Red Cross / Crescent stamps Stamps either commemorating the Red Cross or bearing a premium in aid of the Red Cross

Red Cross message scheme Used for the exchange of mail between persons living on opposing sides during WW2, operated out of Switzerland.

Red plates Printing plates used for making Penny red stamps of Great Britain in 1841. See also “Black plates”.

Redrawn A stamp design that has been slightly altered yet maintains the basic design as originally issued.

Reel fed Stamps printed by presses using continuous reels of paper.

Re-engraved A stamp with an altered design as the result of a change made to a transfer roll or printing plate prior to a later printing, thereby distinguishing it from the original die.

Re-engraving The strengthening of worn parts of the surface of a printing plate.

Re-entry A repair made by means of a transfer roller to worn or damaged impression on a plate after it has been in use.  It is not unusual for a flaw to be removed or minimised before the transfer roller is used.

Regional Postage Labels (RPL) Similar in format to CALs, are contained in a series of booklets produced for Regional Information Centres (iSites) for sale at iSites, tourist centres and other locations.

Regional postcards Picture postcards issued by the various regional postal boards in the UK.

Regional stamps Stamp sold or valid in a specific area of a stamp-issuing entity. Regionals are usually sold only in a given region but are often valid for postage throughout a country. For example, Great Britain has issued stamps for the regions of Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Register marking Any marking in the sheet margin in the form of lines, dots and arrows, placed as a guide to colour registration.

Registered envelope Special Envelopes pioneered in GB in 1878 for registered packets and distinguished by crossed blue lines.

Registered mail First-class mail with a numbered receipt, including a valuation of the registered item, for full or limited compensation if the mail is lost. Some countries have issued registered mail stamps. Registered mail is signed for by each postal employee who handles it.

Registration labels Adhesive labels indicating the registry number and, often, the city of origin for registered articles sent through the mail.

Registration marks Special marks applied to registered packets to indicate greater security in transit.

Registration stamps Special stamps or postal stationery denoting that the registration fee has been paid.

Regummed A stamp bearing adhesive from an unauthorized source.

Reichspost (German) “Imperial Post”

Reissue 1) An official reprinting of a stamp from an obsolete or discontinued issue. Reissues are valid for postage. See also “Reprint”.

Reissue 2) A stamp or series of stamps brought back into general use after being withdrawn.

Relief cancellation All Chief Post Offices held date stamps with slots into which metal slugs were inserted to produce a desired inscription. These were issued temporarily to offices when a normal date stamp had been damaged or lost.  Some of the early types of date stamps and obliterators without inscriptions which identified them with a particular office were also issued temporarily.

Relief print This is the opposite of recess print (see also) as the portions of the plate which are to print stand up from the surface. The uncoloured portions of the design have been removed. Relief-printing plates are usually produced by electrotyping of stereotyping. Terms used for relief printing are ‘surface printing’ and ‘typography’.

Relief printing Printing from raised type often referred to as letterpress.

Remainders Stocks of stamps remaining unsold at the time that an issue is declared obsolete by a post office. Some countries have sold remainders to the stamp trade at substantial discounts from face value. The countries normally mark the stamps with a distinctive cancel. Uncancelled remainders usually cannot be distinguished from stamps sold over the counter before the issue was invalidated.

Repair Correction of a damaged or faulty printing plate, cylinder, die or perforation pins.

Repaired stamp A damaged stamp that has been repaired in some way to reinforce it or to make it resemble an undamaged stamp to increase its possible market value.

Re-perforated stamp A stamp which has had perforation applied unofficially to an imperforate or damaged margin.

Replica A reproduction of a stamp or cover. In the 19th century, replica stamps were sold as stamp album space fillers. Replica stamps are often printed in one colour in a sheet containing a number of different designs. Replicas can sometimes deceive either a postal clerk or collectors.

Reply paid stationery Envelopes or postal cards bearing inscriptions, address and license number to enable a firm’s customers to reply without paying postage.

Repoussage (French) ‘spinning”. The knocking up of a printing plate from behind for the purpose of raising a dent or bringing a faulty part of the plate to the necessary height for retouching.

Repp paper A ribbed paper with a fine ribbing on the surface and not resulting from the watermark.

Reprint A stamp printed from the original plate, after the issue has ceased to be postally valid. Official reprints are sometimes made for presentation purposes or official collections. [The 1d, 2d and 6d FFQs are the only NZ stamps of which reprints were made.] They are often distinguishable in some way from the originals: different colours, perforations, paper or gum. Private reprints, on the other hand, are usually produced strictly for sale to collectors and often closely resemble the original stamps. Private reprints normally sell for less than original copies. Reprints are not valid for postage. See also “Reissue”. The printing of additional supplies of current stamps is best described as ‘new printings’.

Repro Reproductions of old and antique postcards.

Reproduction A printing in black or in colours, other than those in which stamps were issued, made from a plate after a stamp has been withdrawn from sale at post offices. Reproductions in black were made of the FFQs, ½d Newsletter stamp and of the second side-faces. Coloured reproductions printed from dies of the FFQs were specially made for the “Postage Stamps of New Zealand”, Vol II.

Reserve plate A plate used on several occasions from 1902 to 1908 to print supplies of the Penny Universal.

Resetting New arrangement of clichés in a plate.

Resinised paper Paper made transparent by treatment with resin or collodion. Also known as Goldbeater’s skin (see also).

Retail booklets and sheetlets Stamps packaged in such a way that they can be conveniently sold in souvenir shops and other places in addition to Post Offices.

Retouch The repairing by hand of a damaged plate or die, often producing a minor, but detectable, difference in the design of the printed stamps. See also “Touch-out” and “Touch-up”.

Returned Letter Office See “dead letter office”.

Returned mail Mail which has been returned to the sender for many reasons but mainly because of an incorrect address.

Reuse labels Gummed labels affixed across the tops of envelopes which have previously been used. See also “Economy Label”.

Revenue exhibit An exhibit in an FIP class which would be comprised of embossed, imprinted or adhesive tax, fee or credit stamps issued by or under the origination authority of a state or municipal or intermediate governmental authority. Such an exhibit would display one or more such type of stamp, and explain the reasons for and where necessary detail the regulations relating to the services, transactions of other matter being considered.

Revenues Stamps representing the prepayment or payment of various tax, duty or fee. Revenues are affixed to official documents and to merchandise. Some stamps, including many issues of the British Commonwealth, are inscribed “Postage and Revenue” and were available for either use. Such issues are usually worth less fiscally cancelled than postally used. In some cases, revenues have been used provisionally as postage stamps. See also “Fiscal”.

Reversed print Stamps printed in reverse by accident or design.

Reversed watermark Where the watermark reads the wrong way when viewed from the front of the stamp.

Reward Cards Not, strictly speaking, postcards though they were postcard sized and similar in design. The cards were used as rewards for good behaviour or attendance at school or church. The cards typically have an image to one side and have either plain backs or some pre-printed text concerning the depicted topic or awarding institution.

RFD “Rural free delivery”

Ribbed paper Paper which shows fine parallel ridges on one or both sides of a stamp.

Rice paper A thin paper with a variety of textures, made from the sliced pith of a Formosan tree and sized with rice water.

Richardson prints When it was decided to make printings of the FFQs from the plates received from Perkins. Bacon & Co Ltd, the Colonial Secretary reported there was “but one person in the town competent to print postage stamps”.  This was J Richardson who made printings from November 1855 to February 1862 at Auckland.

Rings Term for a type of numerical obliterator consisting of several concentric circle with or without numerals in the centre.

Ripple gum A gum, adopted by Germany, so broken up as to produce a non-curling effect.

Rivet mark A printed mark on a stamp or sheet margin made by a nail or rivet into the printing plate to secure the printing surface to the mount.

RLO Railway Letter Office; Returned Letter Office

RMPO “Rural mail post office”.

Rocket mail Mail flown in a rocket, even if only a short distance. Many rocket mail experiments have been conducted since 1931. Special labels, cachets or cancels usually note that mail was carried on a rocket.

Rocket stamp A private stamp or label sold to the public to prepay the charges of having a letter sent by rocket.

Rohrpost (German) Pneumatic mail see also

Roll of Distinguished Philatelists (RDP) Established in Great Britain in 1921. King George V gave it royal assent and was the first signatory.

Rolled gum Gum applied to paper by a machine operated roller.

Roller cancellation A cancellation applied by means of a roller fixed in a hand instrument.

Roller die Cylindrical die used to produce a recessed printing plate in the Perkins Die and Mill process.

Roller flaws Flaws in stamp designs caused by imperfections occurring in the roller die.

Roman type Font of type used by printers and distinguished by its serif capitals.

Rosback perforation Experimental perforation gauge 12½ applied to USA 1c stamp of 1919.

Rotary cancellations A hand operated device to speed up the cancellation of stamps.

Rotary perforation In a rotary machine there are two sets of wheels mounted on two axles.  Pins project round the peripheries of one set and corresponding holes have been drilled into the second set.

Rotary plate A curved or cylindrical printing plate used on a press that rotates the plate to make continuous impressions. Flat plates make single impressions.

Rotary printing Method of printing using curved printing plates that print on continuous rolls of paper.

Rough perforation Holes and teeth with rough edges. imperfectly cut or punched.

Roughway The name of a paper supplied by De La Rue & Co Ltd but made by Turner & Co Ltd at their Roughway Paper Mills, Tonbridge.  The paper was chalk-surfaced and had NZ and star watermark.

Roulette A means of separation in which cuts are made without removing any portion of paper. There have been some unusual forms of roulettes used for NZ stamps. With one exception, the evidence indicates that the roulettes were produced by the use of small hand wheels. Many of the FFQs with these forms of separation are extremely rare (in some cases only single copies have been found). There have been attempts to imitate these rarities. All types have certain recognisable characteristics which make it possible to distinguish the genuine from the fake. See “H-roulette”, “Oblique roulette”, “Pin roulette”, “Serrate”, “Square roulette” and “Y-roulette”.

Row value Figures in sheet margins indicating the total value of the stamps in a row.

Royal cypher grade A type of paper containing 50 per cent cotton rag, not less than 10 per cent nor more than 15 per cent mineral matter and the balance chemical wood (also known as wood sulphite). This paper was made to the specifications of the British Post Office for wartime printings of British stamps, hence its description as “Royal Cypher” grade.

Royal Mail postage labels Term used for Frama labels (see also) used in UK 1984-85.

Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand (RPSNZ) The Society was formed in 1888 and thus is the oldest philatelic society in New Zealand. The Royal prefix was granted in 1946.

Royal Reprint Printing of British 1d stamps in September 1865 requested by young members of the Royal Family for examples of the 1d Black.

Royle, W R & Sons Ltd produced plates for the Penny Universal and the plates for the 2d to 1/- Edward VII stamps.

RPO Railway Post Office.

RPSNZ See Royal Philatelic Society of NZ

Ruled paper Paper ruled with lines as a guide for writing. Such paper was used for stamps of Mexico and Latvia.

Rural Free Delivery A system for free home delivery of mail in rural areas of the US that was implemented over a period between 1890 and 1902.

Rural Mail Post Office (RMPO) During WWI an experiment was approved to have travelling post offices on four rural delivery routes. Special date-stamps with RMPO included in the inscription, were used.

Rural postmark Undated postmarks used by rural postmen in Cyprus and Greece.

Rust A brown mould (resembling the rust in iron) that disfigures postage stamps in humid climates and other bad storage conditions.


SAE “Self-addressed envelope”. Commonly used as alternate to “SASE”

Sage see “Peace & Commerce”.

Saggio (Italian) Specimen

Sample labels or stamps Security printer products to show to prospective clients.

Sans serif Name for a form of type which has no cross stroke, or serif, or thickening at the end of each letter.

SASE A self-addressed, stamped envelope. An unused envelope bearing the address of the sender and sufficient return postage. Enclosed with correspondence to make answering easy.

Saturation The proportion of white of the pure hue in the colour. See also “Colour”.

Saunders The paper-maker’s name T H Saunders appeared as a watermark in some sheets of the 2d printed in 1872.

Savings stamps Stamps intended to facilitate the savings of sums of money which are too small to be deposited in the Post Office Savings Bank.

Saw toothed roulette Also known as “Pérce en Scie” characterised by large cuts made in a diagonal pattern.

Scientific expeditions Stamps overprinted for the use of expeditions of science and exploration.

Scouts Post See Boy Scout Posts.

Scrambled Indicia® A patented process that conceals encoded text or graphics within the visible design. These hidden images can only be viewed through a special lens, the Stamp Decoder™, available from the USPS.

Scratch and Win panel 100years of Cinema commemorative issue of 1996

Script Printer’s type resembling handwriting.

Script watermark Watermark consisting of letters in italics. A watermark consisting of the italic letters WT & Co. The paper was made by Wiggins, Teape & Co Ltd and the 1d brown and 2d orange-vermillion FFQs are known with this watermark. A Crown Agents (see also) watermark in use from 1921 where the CA marking is in italics.

Sea Floor Bahamas Special postmark applied to mail posted in the bathysphere at the bottom of the sea in Nassau Marine Gardens on 16 August 1939, a souvenir of the Williamson Undersea Expedition.

Seahorses Name given to the high value Great Britain definitive stamps of King George V.

Sealing labels Gummed or self-adhesive labels used by postal authorities to reseal broken packets.

Seals Gummed labels intended to seal envelopes by affixing them across the flap.

Seaside Comic Postcards Designed to be sent home by British seaside holidaymaker. Always with a comic theme, often risque and sometimes vulgar. English seaside comic postcards first appeared in the early 1900s. Later the cards became saucier and, with an emphasis on sexually suggestive double meaning and innuendo. In the 1930s and 40s the saucy postcard was at its peak with many millions being sent each year.

Second Class mail A slower mail service at reduced rate compared to First Class. See also “Economy”.

Second side-face The 1882 NZ stamps with portrait of Queen Victoria facing to the left, inscribed POSTAGE & REVENUE.

Secret mark A minute alteration to a stamp design added to distinguish later printings from earlier printings by a different firm. Secret marks may positively distinguish genuine stamps from counterfeits.

Security overprint An overprint applied to a stamp to prevent forgery.

Security paper Paper which has been treated to prevent defacing marks on stamps being removed.

Seebeck Issues The nickname for various Latin American issues produced 1890-99 in contract with Nicholas Frederick Seebeck, the agent for the Hamilton Bank Note Co of New York. Seebeck agreed to provide new issues of stamps and stationery each year at no charge, in return for the right to sell remainders and reprints to collectors. The resulting furore destroyed Seebeck and blackened the philatelic reputations of the countries involved.

Self-adhesive labels and stamps Labels and stamps with a rubber based adhesive that does not require moistening.

Self-adhesive Stamp gum that adheres to envelope paper by the application of pressure alone. Most self-adhesive stamps are sold on a coated paper release liner. See also “Liner”, “Linerless”, “Water-activated” and “Die cut”.

Self-inking hand stamp A hand stamp placed in a spring-loaded stamp body which rotates to an internal ink pad after each use.

Selvedge / selvage Selvage tends to be the American usage c.f. selvedge. The marginal paper on a sheet or pane of stamps. See also “Margin”.

Semi-official stamps Stamps used in connection with private postal services but having official sanction.

Semi-postal American term for stamps bearing a charity premium, i.e. a stamp sold at a price greater than postal value, with the additional charge dedicated for a special purpose. Usually indicated on a stamp by the presence of two values, separated by a “+” sign.

Sepia A brownish shade applied to photographs or printed cards, usually to provide an aging effect

Sequence sorting machine A machine which sorts mail to address in sequence of delivery

Series 1) A group of postcards belonging together in a collection. The individual cards may or may not have been printed at the same time. A series has a common artist and publisher. Often, but not always, they have the word series on the back.

Series 2) A group of stamps with a similar design or theme, issued over a period of time. A series may be planned or may evolve.

Serpentine roulette A form of separation in which the cuts are in a wavy line pattern.

Serrate The cuts are so placed that the edges of the stamps are shaped like the edge of a saw. See “roulette”.

Service inscribed A stamp with wording as part of the initial printed design that identifies the mail-handling service for which the stamp is intended, such as “Pre-sorted First-Class”. See also “Pre-cancel”.

Set A number of cards, commonly six, linked in some way (e.g. by number) by a particular publisher. These were sold in packets or individually. Examples are: days of the week or months of the year.

Set off An additional impression of the whole or part of a stamp design, printed accidentally on the face or back of a stamp.

Set Stamps sharing common design elements, often issued at one time and usually collected as a group.

Se-tenant (French) “joined together”. Two or more unseparated stamps of different designs, colours, denominations or types.

Sewing machine perforation Separation applied by a sewing machine resembling either pin rouletting or rough perforation depending on the condition of the needle.

Shade The minor variation commonly found in any basic colour. Shades may be accorded catalogue status when they are very distinctive.

Sheet A complete unit of stamps as printed. Stamps are usually printed in large “press sheets” and are separated into two or more panes, commonly called ‘sheets’ before shipment to post offices.

Sheet number A number appearing in the margin of a stamp sheet in order to count and distinguish the sheet individually.

Sheet watermark Watermark device appearing only once in the printed sheet also known as “All over Watermark” (see also).

Sheetlet A sheet of stamps containing a much smaller number of stamps than the normal sheet distinguished from Miniature Sheet (see also).

Shift Term used when a colour is applied out of register to the stamp design during printing.

Shifter transfer Is caused by the failure of the impression on the roller to coincide at the end of a forward movement with the lines impressed by the preceding movement due to displacement of the metal of the plate.  It occurs if there is excessive pressure or speed during rocking-in. This will result in duplication at the ends of the design (e.g. doubling of frame line).

Ship cancellations Special marks often including the name of the ship used to cancel mail posted on board.

Ship letter A letter carried by a private vessel instead of a packet letter (see also). The Post Office agreed to pay the Masters of Private Ships a fee which was an inducement to the efficient handling of letters they carried. This was in addition to the ordinary postage charged and all was paid for by the recipient. A special mark was applied to the mail at the port of arrival. See also “Captain’s gratuity”.

Shipping company stamps Stamps issued by shipping companies to prepay postage on mail carried by their vessels.

Short set An incomplete set of stamps, usually lacking either the high value or one or more key values.

Shrinkage Stereotypes of a particular stamp image have often varied in size owing to the shrinkage of the plaster mould from which the stereos were made.

Sideways watermark Watermark device at right angles to the stamp design.

Siege post Mail services from town under siege in wartime.

Signé (French) “sign”. Term for a stamp with an expert’s signature on the back proving it is genuine.

Silhouette Popular form of art deco illustrating from the 1920s and 1930s. Silhouette postcards and often fantasy scenes show the main subject in black which gives a shadow appearance.

Silk Postcards with silk fabric applied to the design. Silk postcards can also be entire images printed on silk then attached to a postcard backing.

Silk screen printing A printing process where the ink is forced through a fine screen onto the paper surface of the stamp below.

Silk thread paper Paper with threads of silk in its composition. See also “Dickinson Paper”.

Silurian paper Paper with a slight bluish grey tinge and showing threads of different colours on the surface.

Silvering A degeneration in gelatin silver prints where the silver salts have come to the surface which is usually the result of paper contacting the emulsion.

Single line perforation Perforation applied to a sheet one row at a time from a single row of pins.

Sinking fund stamps French stamps with a surcharge for the reduction of the national debt.

Size of Postcards Standard Size – approx. 3½ x 5½ in (90 x 140 mm); Court Size – approx 3½ x 4½ in (90 x 115 mm); Continental Size – approx. 4 x 6 in (100 x 150 mm) common size for modern cards.; Jumbo or Over Sized – larger than Continental; Bookmark Cards – long and narrow approx. 2½ x 5 – 6 in (90 x 140- 150 mm; and, Miniature Size – approx half size of Standard or 3½ x 2¾ in (90 x 70 mm).

Skeleton postmark A Skeleton postmark is a circular date stamp made up from loose metal type. Skeletons are brought into use, usually for a short period, then returned to the Post Office stores for reuse. The reasons for their issue is usually one of the following: summer peak periods at holiday resorts; theft of a date stamp; temporary post office; new post office; pre-Christmas pressure period; or, a normal date-stamp is being replaced due to breakage, loss or wear.

Sleeper Stamp or other collectible item that seems to be under-priced and may have good investment potential.

Sleeve 1) A seamless cylindrical printing plate used in rotary intaglio printing.

Sleeve 2) A flat transparent holder, often specifically for protecting and storing a cover.

Slide Transparency Postcards See ‘hold to light’.

Slogan cancellation / postmark Postmarks bearing a slogan either as a form of advertising or giving instructions to the public.

Slot machine stamps Dickie, Parker and Dickie & Brown

Slurred print Also known as smudged print caused by paper slip at the point of contact with the printing plate.

Small sheets of philatelic interest without postal validity.

Smart stamps Royal Mail business postage option to print postage on envelopes, labels or parcels.  Service closed down 31 December 2015.

Smiler sheets Sheet of postage stamps issued se-tenant with labels on which an individual’s picture is printed thereon.

Smilers Name given by Royal Mail to stamps attached to a label on which can be printed a photograph supplied by the customers.

Smiling Boys Also known as the ‘Red and Blue Boys’, the New Zealand Health Stamps issued in 1931.

Snail mail Modern term for conventional mail as opposed to Emails.

Soaking Removal of stamps from envelope paper. Most stamps may be safely soaked in water. Fugitive inks, however, will run in water, and chalky-surfaced papers will lose their designs entirely, so some knowledge of stamps is a necessity. Coloured envelope paper should be soaked separately.

Socked on the nose cancel A postmark with the impression centred directly on the stamp so that the location and date of mailing are shown on the stamp. (Also known as a “bull’s eye”)

Soldiers’ letters Letters sent from soldiers on active service, often sent free or at a reduced postal rate.

Soldiers’ stamps Stamps issued by many countries to denote the exemption of serviceman’s mail from postage.

Somerset House London Headquarters of the Board of the Inland Revenue which was responsible for British stamp production between 1840 and 1930.

Souvenir card A philatelic card, not valid for postage, issued in conjunction with some special event. The souvenir card often illustrates the design of a postage stamp.

Souvenir packs Packs produced by Royal Mail in conjunction with selected special stamp issues, which in addition to containing stamps, feature an illustrated book with background information.

Souvenir page An announcement of a new US stamp issue created by the US Postal Service, bearing a copy of the new stamp tied by a first day of issue cancellation.

Souvenir sheet A small sheet of stamps, including one value or a set of stamps. A souvenir sheet usually has a wide margin and an inscription describing an event being commemorated. Stamps on a souvenir sheet may be perforated or imperforate.

Sower (La Semeuse) Longest lived French stamp design first issued in 1903

Space filler A stamp in poor condition used to fill the designated space in a stamp album until a better copy can be found.

Space stamps Stamps commemorating space events.

Spandrel The space between rectangular border and non-rectangular form which encloses the central portion of the design.

Spandrel The space between the exterior curves of an arch and an enclosing right angle.

Special delivery A service providing expedited delivery of mail. Called Express by some nations.

Special delivery stamps Labels denoting special handling of mail to speed up delivery.

Special event postmarks Postmarks used at Exhibitions and other special occasions for which a temporary post office is provided.

Special fee stamps Stamps denoting the fees payable in respect of special handling of mail.

Special handling A US service providing expeditious handling for fourth-class material.

Special handstamp centre Centre for applying special handstamps e.g. Mount Pleasant, UK.

Special handstamp Royal Mail pictorial cancellations in use for one day only and specially applied by hand.

Special printing Reissue of a stamp of current or recent design, often with distinctive colour, paper or perforations.

Special Regulations for the Evaluation of Exhibits (SREV) Each competitive exhibiting class has specific SREV based upon the General Regulations for the Evaluation of Exhibits (GREV) and additional interpretive guidelines to assist the jury and exhibitor.

Special stamps Regular postage stamp issues that fall outside the traditional definitions of commemorative and definitive stamps. In the US, holiday issues such as Contemporary Christmas, Traditional Christmas, Hanukkah and the like are considered special stamps. They are printed in substantially greater quantities than commemorative stamps, and sometimes return to press for additional printings. Love stamps are also considered special stamps.

Specialised exhibition An exhibition, at International or national level, which has a restricted number of competitive classes

Specialist A stamp collector who intensively studies and collects the stamps and postal history of a given country, area, or time period, or who has otherwise limited his collecting field.

Specimen 1) Under the rules of the UPU all issues of stamps issued by its members must be circulated through its offices to other member countries. Such stamps are for identification purposes and to the philatelic press and trade for publicity purposes. They are usually overprinted or punched with the word “SPECIMEN” or equivalent

Specimen 2) Sample stamps, usually overprinted “Specimen”, distributed free via the philatelic press or to the trade. See also “Presentation sets”

Specimen 3) Stamps overprinted officially by postal administrations to prevent re-use.

Speculative issue A stamp or issue released primarily for sale to collectors, rather than to meet any legitimate postal need.

SPIFS Meaning “Stamps Perforated for Individuals or Firms” (in Europe). Also see “Perfin”

Splice The repair of a break in a roll of stamp paper, or the joining of two rolls of paper for continuous printing. Stamps printed over a splice are usually removed and destroyed before the normal stamps are issued.

Split stamps Fragments of stamps used postally to represent an appropriate portion of their original value. See also “bisect”, “trisect” and “quadrisect”.

SPLSM Single Position Letter Sorting Machine or Elsie

Sponsored booklets Booklets sponsored by commercial firms etc.

Spoon cancellations Experimental duplex handstamp introduced in England in 1854.

Spray watermark Name of the watermark of a flower in machine made paper used for British postage stamps between 1867 and 1880.

Square roulette The cuts are in the form of a series of small squares. See “roulette”.

Squared circle The first type of combined date and obliterator of stamps used in England & Wales between 1879 and 1914.

Squeakers Novelty postcards that have an embedded mechanical device that ‘squeaks’ when the card is pressed. Typically these cards depict animals.

SREV “Special Regulations for the Evaluation of Exhibits”

SREV “Special Regulations for the Evaluation of Exhibits”

SSO Station Sorting Office

St Andrews Cross label A stamp sized piece of paper bearing diagonally crossed lines in the form of the cross of St Andrew.

Stamp An officially issued postage label, often adhesive, attesting that payment has been rendered for mail delivery. Initially used as a verb, meaning to imprint or impress; as in, to stamp a design.

Stamp Box A printed rectangle on the address side of the postcard that indicates where the postage stamp should be placed. Many stamp boxes are printed with series numbers or, for real photo postcards, carry the photo paper publisher details or postage rates and can be used to date the postcard.

Stamp card Laminated Card similar to a credit card bearing peelable self-adhesive stamps. Used in North Korea in 1993.

Stamp collecting A hobby devoted to collecting and study of philatelic material.

Stamp currency Unused postage stamps or postage stamp design on card used as coins.

Stamp Department frank free postage “Government Department printed frank” (see also). A design used c 1894.

Stamp duty 1) is a tax levied on documents. Historically, this included the majority of legal documents such as cheques, receipts, military commissions, marriage licences and land transactions. A physical stamp (a revenue stamp) had to be attached to or impressed upon the document to denote that stamp duty had been paid before the document was legally effective. More modern versions of the tax no longer require an actual stamp.

Stamp duty 2) An inscription usually found on fiscal stamps.

Stamp mounts Stamp mounts are plastic strips, gummed on one side, designed to safely display stamps and other items. The mounts may be purchased pre-cut or come in strips or sheets which are cut, normally using a guillotine, to the size of the material to be inserted. The item is inserted into the mount, the gummed back of the mount is lightly moistened on the back edge, then pressed into the appropriate space. No adhesives touch the items and they can be removed for examination and re-inserted into the mount without physical damage to the item. There are two types of mounts, those with a black background and those with a clear background. (Compare with ‘hinges’)

Stamp packet Exchange Packet used in Philatelic Societies circulated among members to enable them to obtain stamps.

Stamp points A loyalty programme introduced by NZ Post for their philatelic customers in 1996. Based on one point per dollar spent a range of products could be redeemed. Initially the products  included three miniature sheets each of which included three stamps issued over the preceding year entitled “Best of 1996”; a selection of six stamp art prints and a stamp art calendar. In 2001 the art prints, calendar and miniature sheets were withdrawn and imperforate sheets of stamps of a past issue including se-tenant strips of all designs introduced.  With the return of the “Best of …” miniature sheets in 2002 the product range has remained unchanged. Stamps in some of the “Best of …” miniature sheets differ in perforation from those originally issued.

Stamped envelope A mailable envelope with postage embossed or imprinted on it.

Stamped paper Paper bearing an impressed fiscal stamp.

Stamped postal card The current term for a mailable card with postage imprinted on it.

Stampless cover 1) A folded sheet or envelope carried as mail without a postage stamp. This term usually refers to covers predating the requirement that stamps be affixed to all letters.

Stampless cover 2) A cover which has passed through the post since the advent of adhesive stamps which does not bear an adhesive or imprinted stamp.

Stamp-vending machine A machine containing a roll of stamps. The insertion of a coin operated the mechanism so that one stamp was projected through a slot in the machine and it was detached from the roll by being pulled. Some machines projected two stamps (e.g. two 3d stamps for a 6d coin).

Standard Post The rate for a basic domestic letter

Standard Size Introduced in GB November 1899 (Court size), measuring 3½ x 5½ in (90 x 140 mm).

Standing Helvetia 1882-1907 definitive designs of Switzerland.

STC Stated to Catalogue. The term used by auctioneers for lots where the vendor has calculated the Catalogue value. The auctioneer does not bear any responsibility for this statement.

Steamship companies Stamps issued by Steamship Companies to prepay postage on letters carried by their mail steamers between certain ports.

Step and repeat machine An apparatus by means of which an image on glass is projected as many times as required on to a large glass photographic plate, stepped at exact intervals and repeated along successive rows with photographic and mathematical precision.

Stereotype A solid metallic plate for printing cast from a mould of movable type.

Stereotyping A method of producing a printing surface that was commonly employed for newspapers. Impressions from printing type are transferred to papier-mâché moulds into which molten metal is poured. When the cast solidified it forms the printing base.

Stitch watermark A watermark caused by the stitches in the wire or cloth web upon which the paper is made.

Stock book A specially manufactured blank book containing rows of pockets on each page to hold stamps.

Straight edge Flat-plate or rotary-plate stamps from the margins of panes where the sheets were cut apart. Straight-edge stamps have no perforations on one or two adjacent sides. Sometimes straight-edge stamps show a guideline.

Strike posts Emergency posts set up to maintain communications during strikes.

Strip Three or more unseparated stamps in a row, vertically or horizontally.

Strip Three or more un-severed stamps in a row.

Strubell Collectors name for Swiss stamps of 1854-62.

Subject collecting The collecting of stamps according to designs appearing on them. See also “Thematic collecting”.

Submarine posts Wartime postal services which carried mail by submarine.

Subsidiary die See “Die”.

Substituted transfer In the lithographic process if a transfer to a stone is faulty or wrongly placed on the original transfer can be erased and a fresh transfer laid down on the stone in its place.

Sulphuretted Oxidisation of stamps.

Sunday delivery stamps Stamps produced for use on mail intended for delivery on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Surcharge An overprint that changes or restates the denomination of a stamp or postal stationery item. See also “Overprint”.

Surface coloured paper Paper with colour printed all over its surface, as opposed to that which has been dyed throughout its manufacture.

Surface printing Used of printing by the letterpress process.

Surface-coloured paper Paper coloured on the surface only, with a white or uncoloured back.

Surtax The portion of a semi-postal stamp purchase price exceeding the postage value. The surtax is designated for donation to a charity or some other purpose.

Susse perforation A coarse perforation unofficially applied to early French stamps.

Sweatbox A closed box containing dampened sponge-like material, over which stuck-together unused stamps are placed on a grill. Humidity softens the gum, allowing separation of stamps. In some cases, the sweatbox may be used to help remove a postally used stamp from envelope paper.

Swiftair An express airmail service of Royal Mail.

Sydney Views The first stamp issue of New South Wales 1850

Syncopated perforation Uneven perforation where the spaces between the perforation holes are uneven because some pins have been removed.


T Abbreviation for the French “Taxe”. Hand-stamped on a cover, it indicates postage due has been charged. Several countries have used regular stamps with a perforated initial T as postage dues.

Tab Paper with a special descriptive inscription attached to a stamp but separated by a row of perforation holes.

Tablet 1) A small enclosed area in the design of a stamp containing the value in figures.

Tablet 2) French Colonial key type.

Tagged stamps / Tagging Phosphor material on stamps used to activate automatic mail-handling equipment. This may be lines, bars, letters, part of the design area or the entire stamp surface. The tagging may also permeate the stamp paper. Some stamps are issued both with and without tagging. Catalogues describe them as tagged or untagged.

Taille Douce (French) Term used for line engraving printing.

Target cancellation A numeral obliterator consisting of numerals in concentric circles.

TATOM Royal Mail-designed Tracking and Tracing of Overseas Mail computer system.

Tax Perçue (French) “Charge Paid”

Tax Post A service of Royal Mail introduced in 1984 to expedite mail of the Inland Revenue Offices.

Tax Stamps Revenue stamps issued for the payment of, or for noting matters relating to, the payment of or exemption from a tax, levy or other fiscal imposition or duty. See also “fee stamps” and “credit stamps”.

Teeth The protruding points along the outer edge of a perforated postage stamp when it has been removed from the pane.

Telegraph cancel Special obliterations or holes denoting use on a telegraph form.

Telegraph stamp Label used for the prepayment of telegraph fees. Telegraph stamps resemble postage stamps.

Telephone stamps Stamps issued to pay charges for telephone calls.

Testing label A stamp sized label used for testing automatic stamp vending machines.

Tête-bêche (French) ‘head to tail’. Pair (or more) of stamps one of which has been printed upside down (inverted) in relation to the other.

Text Any message, poem, advertisement or title printed on the picture side of the postcard.

Thematic collecting A thematic collection includes philatelic items regardless of their age or country of origin that relate to a theme (or a story line). It’s the story that differentiates a thematic from a topical collector. Using birds as an example a topical collector would save only philatelic items depicting birds while a thematic collector expands that approach by telling a story about birds: their origins, physical differences, habitat, migratory routes, breeding, etc.

Thematic exhibit An exhibit in an FIP class which utilises widest range of appropriate postal-philatelic material connected to the chosen theme. The exhibit should develop the theme according to a plan demonstrating thematic and philatelic knowledge. Compare with “Topical exhibit” and “Open exhibit”.

Thermographic (thermochromic) ink When a stamp incorporates a thermochromic (heat sensitive) ink the design changes to reveal a different image.  [NZ 2006 Gold Rush 45c stamp reveals gold in pan, 2007 ‘Classic Kiwi lingo’ reveals the plain English version of the saying.]

Thermography A printing technique for obtaining a pattern in relief by heating a resinous compound adhering to printing ink.

Thickness (of paper) The paper on which stamps are printed varies in thickness (see Micron).

Thinned A stamp which has lost its original thickness.

Tied A stamp is said to be tied to a cover when the cancel extends over both the stamp and the envelope paper. Stamps can also be tied by the aging of the mucilage or glue that holds them to the paper.

Timbre (French) Stamp

Timbre Cote Vue (French) “Stamp on view side”. A fad which placed the postage stamp on the picture side of the postcard. The term told authorities that the stamp is placed upon the view side. Sometimes these words were hand printed or applied with rubber stamps, can also be omitted.

Tin Can Mail Mail conveyed in the sea in tin cans or bottles.

Tinsel Substance similar to glitter that was used to decorate postcards.

T-mark 1) A mark in the form of the letter T engraved on dies by Waterlow & Sons Ltd. It is taken up by the transfer roller and facilitates the placing of the roller by reference to marks on the plate so that an impression is rolled –in in the correct position. It is usual for the marks to be burnished off the plate but some copies of the Peace issue are found showing the marks.

T-mark 2) A plate marking found on the selvedge.

T-mark 3) International postage due mark.

To Pay labels Special designation used by the British Post Office for postage due stamps, but also used where Customs and handling fees were to be collected. The use of these labels ceased in Great Britain on 28 January 2000. Amounts payable are known shown by use of a rubber stamp.

Tombstone cancel Naval censorship cancellation in the shape of a tombstone in use in the British Empire during WWII.

Tone spot A mark on a stamp of brown rusty appearance which detracts from its value.

Toned paper Paper which is ‘off white’ especially with a brownish or buff tinge.

Tong See “Tweezer”

Too Late Mark to explain reason for delay to mail, which has been posted too late to connect with the last despatch on that day. “Après le Depart” (French)

Topic Stamp, cover, postmark or other philatelic item showing a given subject. Examples are flowers, art, birds or elephants.

Topical A card that fits into a specific subject category. Not scenes or views.

Topical collecting Collecting of philatelic material by the topic depicted on them, rather than by country of origin. See also “Thematic collecting”.

Topical exhibit An exhibit in a national (non-FIP) class which utilises philatelic material where the topic is represented in the design of that material. Compare with “Thematic exhibit” and “Open exhibit”.

Topographical (or Topo) Used to describe cards showing street scenes and general views where this is more dominant than a particular subject e.g. a tram. (Also termed ‘view card’)

TOPS (French)Tri des objects plats – the carriage of flat objects

Touch–out If flaws develop in places where they are clearly seen as extraneous to the design, it is usual to remove them by using a graver or burnisher. In doing this portions of the design might also be removed. in such cases it is practice to retouch the affected part. See also “retouch” and “touch-up”.

Touch–up Faults of omission which are noticed in the proofs run off a plate or cylinder before it is put to press are corrected by use of a graver or burin to cut any missing of defective portions of the design. In recess prints a touch-up or a retouch will show in colour while in relief prints this treatment will increase the uncoloured areas. See also “retouch” and “touch-out”.

Toughra English version of the Ottoman Turkish tughra. A calligraphic monogram, seal or signature unique to each Ottoman sultan affixed to all official documents and correspondence. Toughras served a purpose similar to the Royal Cypher of British monarchs.

Tourist publicity stamps Stamps showing places of interest in the issuing country.

TPO see “Travelling Post Office”.

Tracking labels Labels with serial numbers and barcodes which enable details of any parcel or letters sent to be traced subsequent to posting.

Tradecards Advertising cards issued before 1900. Often given away in products or with the purchase of a product.

Traditional philately exhibit An exhibit in an FIP class which can embrace all aspects of philately including those which may be used in other FIP classes and which supports the story contained in the exhibit. This story must be developed according to a logical plan leading through the exhibit. An exhibit that does not principally follow the special rules of other philatelic classes may be considered and judged as a traditional philately exhibits.

Traditional philately exhibit An exhibit in an FIP class which can embrace all aspects of philately including those which may be used in other FIP classes and which supports the story contained in the exhibit. This story must be developed according to a logical plan leading through the exhibit. An exhibit that does not principally follow the special rules of other philatelic classes may be considered and judged as a traditional philately exhibits.

Traffic lights Collectors’ term for the colour check marks (often circles) found in sheet margins.

Transfer cylinder In printing with the photogravure process, the cylinder has recesses (cells) chemically etched on its surface that fills with ink as it passes through the ink trough, a doctor blade then scrapes the excess ink off the surface, leaving the ink in the cells, which is then transferred onto the paper; one cylinder for each of the primary colours (red, blue and yellow) and black can produce all visible colours. (Also known as the ‘four colour process’)

Transfer In stamp production by the Perkins die and mill process designs are transferred from an intaglio engraved die to a roller die and from this to the printing plate.

Transfer roller A steel roller on which an impression is or impressions are transferred from a die.  The transfer roller is then used in a press to lay down the impression in a plate. See also “Double transfer”, “Foreign entry”.

Transit mark A postal marking applied by a post office between the originating and receiving post offices. It can be on the front or back of a cover, card or wrapper.

Transit postmark A postmark applied to a cover at some point in its transmission between posting and delivery.

Transorma A machine for sorting incoming mail for street delivery installed and used in the United Kingdom for mail addresses to the Brighton area 1935-1968.

Transparency A type of Hold to Light postcard. See “Hold to light”.

Transparency Postcards See “Hold to light”.

Transposed subject A rare error in which a subject or image for one printing plate is inserted by mistake into another.

Travelling post office (TPO) Mobile Post Office usually on a train but sometimes in a bus or van or boat (e.g. ferry service on Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria). Usually have special cancellations.

Treasury competition In 1839 the British Treasury offered prizes of £200 and £100 for the best suggestions “as to the manner in which the projected new postage stamp might best be brought into use” Over 2,500 entries were received and four prizes of £100 were awarded, but none of the suggestions were put into use.

Treasury essay A proposed stamp design submitted in 1839 to the competition organised by the British Treasury.

Treasury roulette An experimental form of separation of line engraved postage stamps of Great Britain showing shallow waved edges with internal cuts applied by a revolving wheel with an independent circumference.

Treaty Ports Chinese seaports opened to European trade by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842.

Treble impression Varieties with one inked and two albino impressions.

Trials Impressions from a die, punch, plate, stone or other printing surface to test that the design and or colour is correct.

Triangulars Three-sided stamps.

Trimmed Term denoting adhesive stamps whose perforations have been clipped owing to faulty guillotining of booklet panes or coils.

Triple comb perforation Machine perforates two rows and three sides of each stamp in a third row at each operation.  See “Comb perforation” and “Double comb perforation”.

Triple perforation Similar to double perforations but with two extra rows added. All three rows have the same gauge.

TRIPOS Traffic Recording Installations in Parcel Office Systems

Triptych A se-tenant strip of three related stamps forming one overall design and printed side by side in the sheet.

Trisect A stamp divided into three parts. See “bisect” and “split stamp”.

Tudor Rose watermark Watermark similar to an heraldic Tudor Rose.

Tweezers Small metal two pronged instrument used by collectors to pick up stamps without using their fingertips preventing stamps from being soiled by dirt, oil or perspiration. [In the US called ‘tongs’.]

Two tier post A postal service operating at two distinct levels and offering two separate tariffs.

Type 1) The particular characteristic of the design of a stamp. Catalogues use type numbers or letters to save space. Catalogues show a typical design of one type rather than every stamp with that design or a similar design.

Type 2) Metal or wood pieces each bearing a letter of other symbol used for printing.

Typeset stamps Stamps printed from an arrangement of printer’s type assembled to make a design.

Typewritten stamps Stamps which have been produced wholly or partly by typewriting.

Typographic A printing process which includes “letterpress”, “relief”, “electrotyping”, “stereotyping and “embossing”.

Typographical cancellation Cancellation applied to stamps by letterpress printing.


U-boat mail Mail carried by German Submarines during both world wars.

Ultra violet lamp see “UV lamp” and also “Quartz Lamp”

Ultramer Overprint applied at Lisbon to stamps distributed by the UPU for Portuguese Colonies

UM Unmounted mint. See “mint”.

Unappropriated die Die used to produce many British fiscal and revenue stamps.

Uncatalogued Known to exist but not listed in any catalogue

Undenominated stamps Stamps which do not show a face value.

Underprint 1) Anything printed underneath the main design of a stamp, banknote or similar item. It is used as a security measure to prevent forgery, or the cleaning of a postmark from a used stamp. The most common form of underprinting is burelage which takes the form of a faint pattern of lines or dots. It may also take the form of single or repeating words, for instance the word CUSTOMS at one time appeared underprinted on British revenue stamps.

Underprint 2) The term is also used to refer to advertising or other wording printed on the back of stamps. For example, in the UK underprints were applied by firms as early as 1858 to their own stocks of stamps to protect themselves against petty pilfering by staff. From 1866 until 1882, the Post Office provided an official underprinting service (these differed from the unofficial underprints in being printed under the gum).

Undivided back Early postcards that carried the recipient’s address and postage stamp on one side and the message had to be written on the ‘picture’ side. In 1902 Great Britain introduced the divided back, on one side of the card would be the picture, the other would have both the recipients address and senders message with a dividing line between the two. The transition from undivided to divided back took several years as postal authorities around the world adopted common standards. Undivided backs on postcards help date the cards (see divided back)

Unemployed intellectuals stamps Stamps issued by France between 1935 and 1940 with a premium in aid of the unemployed.

Ungummed A stamp without gum. Un-gummed stamps are either stamps issued without gum or an un-cancelled gummed stamp that has had its gum soaked off. Many countries in tropical climates have issued stamps without gum.

Unhinged A stamp without hinge marks, but not necessarily with original gum.

Uniform Fourpenny Post From 5 December 1839 to 9 January 1840 letters posted in GB were charged a uniform rate of 4d instead of postage calculated by distance.

Uniform Penny Post Started in GB on 10 January 1840 with a basic rate of 1d per half ounce regardless of distance carried, discontinued in 1918.

Uniform postage A postal system whereby mail is conveyed at a flat rate irrespective of distance or any other factor apart from weight.

Unissued stamps Stamps which have been prepared for issue but for some reason have not been issued for postal use.

Universal colours Colours adopted by members of the UPU for stamps prepaying three classes of postal service: green basic foreign printed matter, red internal postcards, blue internal single rate letters. The use of these colours was ignored by many countries and abandoned by the UPU in 1953

Universal Postal Union (UPU) An international organization of postal administrations with its headquarters in Berne, established in 1874 (and since 1949 a specialized agency of the United Nations Organization), which regulates international mail by establishing standards and procedures for such things as rates, accounting, and reimbursement. It is widely regarded as the most (some might say the only) successful effort at international cooperation, and is the reason you can drop a letter addressed to a foreign country into a mailbox with confidence it will reach its destination almost anywhere in the world! While its rules are not entirely mandatory, they are made with the implicit understanding that any nation that fails to obey them could have its foreign mails denied delivery.

Unlisted A stamp which does not appear in a stamp catalogue.

Unmounted mint (UM) The stamp is unused and appears never to have been mounted. Similar to mint never hinged (MNH) but sometimes is seen to have the connotation that it has been tampered with to remove traces of mounting.

Unofficial stamps Stamps issued by bus, airline and shipping companies to prepay charges on their parcels and packets.

Unpaid letter stamps see “Postage Due”

Unused An un-cancelled stamp that has not been used but has a hinge mark or some other characteristic or defect that keeps it from being considered a mint stamp. Un-cancelled stamps without gum may have been used and missed being cancelled, or they may have lost their gum by accident.

UPU circulars

UPU see “Universal Postal Union”

US Postmasters’ provisionals Issued in a number of US cities between 1845 when uniform postal rates were established by Congress and 1847 when US postage stamps were first issued.

Used A stamp or stationery item that has been cancelled by a postal authority to prevent its reuse on mail. In general, a used stamp is any stamp with a cancel or a pre-cancelled stamp without gum. See also “Postally Used” and “Philatelic Cover”. Categories of Used are: Superb Used, Fine Used, Good Used and Used.

Used abroad Stamps of one country used and postmarked in another.

Used fiscally Postage stamps inscribed postage & revenue used for the payment of revenue charges.

Used on cover Stamps postmarked and preserved on the original cover.

Used on piece Stamp kept on part of the original cover to preserve the complete postmark.

Used stamp Stamp that has been used postally and bears at least part of a postmark

UV lamp An ultraviolet lamp used to detect tagging (see also).


V Mail A form of Airgraph (see also) used by the US Forces during WW2.

Value block The top right-hand corner of a sheet of stamps, containing the dollar value of the entire sheet.

Value tablet The panel on a stamp carrying the declared monetary value.

Variable value stamp A gummed or self-adhesive stamp of a common design, issued by a machine similar to an Automatic Teller Machine, with a value of the user’s choice printed at the time the stamp is dispensed. The value may be variable or from a fixed selection of postal rates. The stamps and machines are typically for use in retail or post office environments. They are closely related to meter stamps. See also “Automatenmarken” and “Frama labels”.

Variety A variation from the standard form of a stamp. Varieties include different watermarks, inverts, imperforates, missing colours, wrong colours and major colour shifts. See also “Freak”, “Error”.

Varnish lines Bars of varnish applied across the face of stamps.

VCS Video coding system

Vending machine booklet Booklet of stamps prepared to be sold by a vending machine.

Vending machine stamps Stamps produced for use in stamp vending machines.

Vermeil (French) a term that strictly means gilded silver.  Used in philately to mean silver-gold to fit within a hierarchy of “medal” from Gold, Large Vermeil, Vermeil to Large Silver.

Vermeil (French) a term that strictly means gilded silver.  Used in philately to mean silver-gold to fit within a hierarchy of “medal” from Gold, Large Vermeil, Vermeil to Large Silver.

Vertical pair imperforate between A pair of stamps that is fully perforated at the top, sides and bottom but has no perforation between the two.

Victorian Postcards Dating from the era of Queen Victoria who reigned from 1837 until 1901. It was during Victoria’s reign that Britain’s penny post service was introduced (in 1840) and in 1870 the first postcard was made available, a pre-printed correspondence card with a half penny universal delivery charge. The availability of this fixed cost and reliable postal service resulted in a wide and rapid public acceptance of the medium. New Zealand produced its first picture postcards in December 1897, and the first private picture postcard in 1899.

Victory stamps Stamps commemorating victory after major wars.

View Cards Postcards that feature cities and places within cities, such as parks, main streets, depots, store fronts, bridges, and roads and are not topicals.  View cards have, since postcards began, been the mainstay of the collecting field. View cards offer historic reference to buildings, streets, and even towns which may no longer exist or have changed significantly over time.

Vignette 1) The central part of a stamp design, usually surrounded by a border. In some cases the vignette shades off gradually into the surrounding area.

Vignette 2) Usually found on undivided back cards, consisting of a design that does not occupy the whole of the picture side. Vignettes may be anything from a small sketch in one corner of the card, to a design cover three quarters of the card. The purpose is to leave some space for the message to be written, as the entire reverse of the card could only be used for the address.

Vin Fiz A Wright Brothers biplane that in 1911 became the first aircraft to fly coast-to-coast across the US, a journey taking almost three months. The flight was also used to promote an airmail service and 25 cent semi-official stamps were sold for items to be carried on the airplane. The Post Office tolerated them but insisted that mail carry regular stamps as well. Twelve Vin Fiz stamps are known to exist – seven on postcards, one on a cover, and four individual stamps. Referenced in SREVs for Aerophilately.

Vinegar Verse Usually found on Valentine Postcards, these curt and sometimes very hurtful messages offered an alternative to the overly sweet sentiments. Definitely not politically correct by modern standards.

Vintage Photograph A vintage photograph is a photograph that was made around the same time as the negative was made. Example: If a picture was taken in 1903 and the image was then printed in 1903, then that photograph would be a vintage one. If the same image was printed again in 1956, instead of 1903, that photograph would not be vintage, but would be marked as “printed later.”

VR (Latin) Victoria Regina “Queen Victoria”. On the NZ 1891 Government Life Insurance Department stamps the letters “V” and “R” appear in script on either side of the lighthouse.  The design of the 1905 and for the new plates used in the 1913 printing these letters do not appear. Commonly called “No VR”.

VRI (Latin) Victoria Regina Imperatrix “Queen Victoria Empress”. Overprint applied from 1900 to stamps issued in Orange Free State under British occupation.


WADP World Association for the Development of Philately created by UPU in 1997. The aim of WADP is to develop and promote philately through philatelic partners and designated operators. To combat the problem of illegal issues and to promote philately, the WADP created the WNS website in 2002, which now has 195 members.

Walk sequence the order in which a postman (or mail carrier) does their delivery rounds.  Automatic mail sorting systems are capable of ordering the mail to match the walk sequence. See also “Walksort”.

Walksort Service offered by Royal Mail where bulk posting are sorted by the sender into the Postman’s walks.

Wallpaper Slang for stamps that have little or no value.

WAND Worldwide Advanced Network Distribution

Want list A list of needed stamps or covers, identified by catalogue number or some other description, submitted by a collector to a dealer, usually including requirements on condition and price.

War stamp A stamp which is issued in time of war to raise additional revenue, and inscribed WAR STAMP or WAR TAX or such similar words.

War Tax stamps Stamps issued to raise money in wartime generally inscribed ‘WAR TAX’.

Water-activated adhesive / gum Stamp gum designed to adhere to envelope paper only if the gum is moistened. All gummed stamps before 1963 used water-activated adhesive. See also “Self-adhesive stamp”.

Waterleaf paper A type of un-sized paper. The lack of internal sizing, a material added to most paper pulp to impart water resistance, gives waterleaf papers the ability to absorb water or other fluids readily and instantly.

Waterlow & Sons Ltd, of London Wall and Watford. Were connected with NZ stamps from 1898 to 1958.

Waterlow Bros & Layton Ltd made two trial plates introduced for the Penny Universal.

Waterlow paper A thick soft paper supplied by Waterlow & Sons.

Watermark A design, device or pattern usually of wire or metal called Bits (see also) impressed into paper during manufacture which creates a deliberate thinning of paper during its manufacture to produce a semi-translucent pattern. Watermarks appear frequently in paper used in stamp printing or envelope manufacture. The purpose is largely for protection against duplication of the paper. The watermarks are numerous in size and design and can be detected by placing in a special watermark detector. When a watermark contains letter, the normal position is with the letter upright and reading the correct way when viewed through the front of the stamp. See also “Batonne” and “Dandy Roll”.

Watermark bits The designs in metal attached to the frame or dandy roll (see also) for producing watermarks in the paper.

Watermark detector Device to aid the identification of watermarks.

Watermark error Stamps may be found with part or all of the watermark missing or the incorrect watermark for that issue.

Watermark inverted When a sheet of paper has been fed through the press the right side to the plate, but upside down. It is inverted in relation to the design on the face.

Watermark reversed Term used when a sheet of paper has been fed through the press the wrong side to the printing surface.

Watermark sideways The printing of stamps for sale in rolls needs a different arrangement of the printing materials in relation to the paper with the result that the stamps are printed sideways to the paper and the watermark reads vertically instead of horizontally across the stamps.

Way Letters Letters collected by a postman and delivered by him on his round without necessarily going through a Post Office.

Web A continuous roll of paper used in stamp printing.

Weigh and pay machine A machine that enables an item being posted to weigh, calculate the required postage and produce the label or meter to be affixed. These may be installed in post offices for public use or in offices for private use.

Wet printing Printing on paper that has been moistened to make it more resilient and receptive to printer’s ink.  Has a moisture content of 15-35 percent, compared to 5-10 percent for “dry’ printings, also has a duller look than “dry’ printings. Stamps from such sheets vary in size from dry printings owing to shrinkage on drying.

White backs Collector’s term for certain British Commonwealth stamps printed on paper coloured yellow or green on the printing surface but left uncoloured on the other side.

White Border The border around many postcards after the golden age.

Wiggins Teape & Alex Pirie Ltd is a combination of two old established paper making firms which made paper for a significant number of NZ stamps.

Wilding The name given to British definitive stamps, issued 1952-67, bearing the Queen’s head from a photographic portrait by Dorothy Wilding.

Winchester paper A type of security paper with a surface tinted grey blue pattern to prevent re-use and forgery.

Window booklet A booklet of stamps which originally revealed the stamps inside through a cut out in the cover of the booklet.

Wing margin Very wide margin found on stamps printed in pane formation and perforated with only one central vertical line in the inter pane gutters. British sheets printed before 1880 were perforated down the centre of the gutter, producing oversized margins on one side of stamps adjacent to the gutter. Such copies are distinctive and scarcer than normal copies.

WNS WADP Numbering System website was created to combat illegal stamp issues and become a reference website for collectors and resellers. The system officially registers every postage stamp issued by WNS members (UPU members and the UN Postal Administration) as notified by designated operators, not by agents or printers) and assigns each stamp a unique number.

Woodblock Stamp printed directly from an engraving on wood.

WOPA World Online Philatelic Agency (WOPA) is a site where collectors can purchase new issue stamps and collectibles from a range of countries in one website.

Working stone term applied by printers to denote the completed lithographic stone from which the sheets of stamps are printed.

Worn Impression see “Worn plate”

Worn plate A printing plate which through constant usage is showing extensive signs of wear.

Wove paper A paper showing few differences in texture and thickness when held to light. In the production of wove paper, the pulp is pressed against a very fine netting, producing a virtually uniform texture. Wove paper is the most commonly used paper in stamp production.

Wrapper A flat sheet or strip, open at both ends that can be folded and sealed around a newspaper or periodical. Wrappers can have an imprinted stamp or have a stamp attached.

Wreck cover An item of mail salvaged from a shipwreck. See also “Crash Mail”.

Wrigley, James & Co Ltd made some of the paper used by Waterlow & Sons for the 1898 pictorials.

Write Away A postcard on which the first few words of the sender’s message has been included in the design. Often the illustration is of a comic nature and depicts the write away phrase. Phrases such as ‘I shall be under the clock…’, ‘I really must stop…’, ‘I must remember…’, and so on. These cards were very popular in the first years of the 1900s.


X list List kept at every British Post Office (1886-1915) on which was entered the details of all parcels which were carried by rail, in order that payment may be made to the Railway Company.

Xeroxed stamps Stamps produced by a photocopying machine.

Xylography The art of engraving on wood.


Yacht key type Designs used for stamps of the German Colonies between 1900 and 1914.

Year book/pack A book or pack issued by various countries which contain all the commemorative and special issue stamps made in the country during the designated year with background information.

Youth classes Three Age Groups are defined by FIP according to their age at 1 January in the year of an exhibition.  These age groups are generally followed for all National exhibitions (A) 10 to 15 (in NZ up to and including 15); (B) 16 to 18; and (C) 19 to 21 years old. Minimum and Maximum number of frames in an exhibit are (A) 1-3 frames; (B) 2-4 frames; and (C) 3-5 frames. In New Zealand a number of National (non-FIP) classes are also available for youth including a Youth Development class and a Developing Exhibit class where the entrant is permitted fewer than the minimum number of frames specified by FIP.

Y-roulette The cuts are shaped like the letter Y. See “roulette”.


Zemstvo A local stamp issued by Russian municipal governments or zemstvos, in accordance with an imperial edict of 1870.

Zemstvo Posts The name given to the services organised by the Zemstvos, units of local Government in rural Russia.

Zeppelin post Airmail services operated in connection with the flights of German Airships.

Zeppelins The stamps issued for, or in honour of, Zeppelin flights. Cacheted covers carried on such flights are Zeppelin covers.

Z-Grill The rarest of a series of different embossing security devices used in the USA between 1867 and 1870.

Zig Zag roulette Form of separation which produces sharp pointed projections at the edges of stamps.

Zinc white or Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a pigment material for paper coating to impart brightness and better printing properties.

Zincography Printing from Zinc plates.

ZIP block US marginal marking block with the selvage bearing the image of the “Mr ZIP” cartoon character and/or an inscription urging the use of ZIP code. This first appeared on US marginal selvage in 1964. Typically a ZIP block is a block of four stamps.

ZIP code Postcode used in USA the name derived from Zone Improvement Plan.


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